Reactions to State Water Project initial allocation

On Tuesday, the Department of Water Resources announced a State Water Project initial allocation of 20%.  Here’s what agencies and organizations had to say:

From the Kern County Water Agency:

KCWA logoYesterday, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that the State Water Project (SWP) initial water allocation is 20 percent of contracted amounts.  For Kern County, this means about 200,000 acre-feet (af) of water would be delivered to Kern County water users from the SWP in 2017—compared to the contracted amount of about one million acre-feet.

The SWP provides water to more than 25 million residents and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural land throughout California.  Each year, DWR issues a conservative initial allocation, since California normally receives more than 90 percent of its snow and rain between December and April.  DWR typically issues a final allocation in May, after the state’s wettest months have passed.

“A 20 percent SWP allocation is a hopeful improvement over initial SWP allocations in 2014, 2015 and 2016 of only 5 or 10 percent.  However, California desperately needs some plentiful water years to make up for extremely dry conditions in recent years, which have required a disproportionate reliance on diminishing groundwater reserves in Kern County,” said Kern County Water Agency (Agency) Board of Directors President Ted Page.

Recent storms have brought some relief, but California could still end up in the sixth year of an unprecedented drought cycle.  Water leaders throughout Kern County and the state have implemented creative water management strategies to help deal with this shortage, but significant replenishment of groundwater and reservoir storage supplies has never been more critical.

“Improved hydrologic conditions are encouraging, but they simply aren’t enough.  California desperately needs a comprehensive solution to the state’s longstanding water crisis.  Kern County is hopefully that the wet hydrology continues through the winter months,” added Page.

The Agency is part of a diverse coalition of California water agencies that have invested more than $240 million to develop California WaterFix—a prudent, realistic, science-driven and achievable approach that will fix California’s aging water delivery system, protect its economy and ensure related public safety.

This approach includes a tremendous amount of public review and comment.  It covers five main areas:

  1. Water Security
  2. Climate Change Adaptation
  3. Environmental Protection
  4. Seismic Safety
  5. Affordability

For more information about California WaterFix, visit: www.californiawaterfix.com.

From the Southern California Water Committee:

scwc logoThe California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced an initial allocation of 20 percent for water agencies who receive water from the State Water Project, which serves 26 million Californians and supplies about 30 percent of Southern California’s water.

This allocation is the first estimate for 2017, and could increase depending on the amount of rain and snowfall captured during the winter and spring. Due to recent early-season storms, this year’s initial allocation is double that of 2016 at ten percent of deliveries, but still a fraction of water agencies’ full contract amounts. State officials still warn of a potential sixth year of drought.

“The storms we’ve seen so far this season are encouraging, but are not a panacea for the five years of drought California has suffered, and future dry years still loom just around the corner,” said Charlie Wilson, Executive Director.  “The pattern of low water deliveries underscores California’s need for a modern water system that would allow us to capture water when it’s available then store until needed during dry years. Our current system permits large amounts of water to be lost out to the ocean, leaving homes, businesses and farms throughout the state high and dry. California WaterFix would protect against earthquakes, prepare for drought and ensure a reliable, efficient statewide water supply.”

From the State Water Contractors:

swc logoThe California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced its initial 2017 water delivery projection, forecasting that 20 percent of contracted water supplies will be available to the water agencies that purchase water from the State Water Project (SWP).  DWR’s initial allocation is estimated based on current storage levels, regulatory restrictions and anticipated streamflows. The percentage may go up or down depending on actual conditions this winter and spring.

Since October 1, the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains have seen two times the amount of snow and rainfall compared to average, rivaling the region’s wettest year in decades. But this record precipitation has not translated into a significant increase in stored water – runoff has largely skipped storage reservoirs, flowing into rivers and streams that go out to the San Francisco Bay. If California is to recover from record drought, it is imperative that regulators and water managers capture available supplies this winter to replenish the state’s reservoirs and prepare for another potential dry year.

“We are cautiously optimistic, but California can only pull itself out of drought if we are able to capture water during peak storm periods,” said Terry Erlewine, General Manager.  “How we fare in 2017 will depend on how water is managed, operated and regulated in the Delta.  Last winter’s storms yielded little water for Californians – a painful missed opportunity for a state reeling from drought. With key reservoirs still depleted, and a potential sixth year of drought ahead, we can’t afford another season of lost water and missed opportunities.”

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