FRESNO, Calif. – Datatech has been following closely the issues exposed by the extremely wet water year in California water storage and conveyance systems. On Tuesday the Federal Bureau of Reclamation announced an update to the 2017 water supply allocation for all Central Valley Project contractors South-of-Delta to 100 percent from the earlier announced 65 percent allocation of their contract supply. This is the first time since 2006 that west side growers will get 100 percent of their water allocation.
In an announcement Acting Regional Director Pablo Arroyave said, “Following the California Department of Water Resources exceptional March 30 snow survey results, Reclamation is pleased to announce this increase to a 100 percent allocation for our South-of-Delta water contractors. However, as Governor Brown reminded us last week when lifting California’s drought state of emergency, the next drought could be around the corner. It is crucial that we remain vigilant in conserving our precious water resources.”
On Feb. 28 and March 22, the Feds announced a 100 percent allocation for all CVP contractors with the exception of agricultural water service contractors South-of Delta which included the Delta Division, San Felipe Division, and the San Luis Unit. Their initial allocations were 65 percent of their contract supply, and Municipal and Industrial contractors South-of-Delta, who were initially allocated 90 percent of their contract supply.
But some good news came on March 30 when DWR reported an average statewide snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada of 45.8 inches, or 164 percent of the historical average for the date, which is 27.9 inches. As a result of the water availability south of the Delta, San Luis is 98 percent full and the amount of snowpack in the central and southern Sierra Nevada, the call was made to make this significant water supply allocation increase.
The updated allocations announced for South-of-Delta Contractors is as follows:
• M&I water service contractors South-of-Delta are allocated 100 percent of their contract supply.
• Agricultural water service contractors South-of-Delta are allocated 100 percent of their contract supply.
This is especially good news after Datatech reported last week that according to Jay Lund, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the University of California – Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences, was quoted in a recent article by Water Deeply saying, “Damage to the Clifton Court Forebay at San Luis Reservoir and lack of south-of-Delta storage are likely to keep this record-wet year from becoming a record Delta export year.” He did say that the allocations for all contractors would likely increase.
The Bureau of Reclamation is encouraging the use of surface supplies instead of ground water wherever possible through the remainder of the 2017 water year, since supplies are huge and underground storage has been heavily relied upon.
Moving forward the Bureau of Reclamation will work to promote effective use of supplies in San Luis Reservoir this year and efficiency for next year’s operations. They’ll limit the overall amount of water to be carried over to the 2018 contract year to 150,000 acre-feet and work on a strategy with contractors for water to be carried over from the 2016 and plans for effectively carrying over water for the 2018 contract year.
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