The Bureau of Reclamation today announced the initial 2017 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project contractors in the Friant Division, Eastside Division and Municipal & Industrial Water Service Contractors in the American River Division.
“The 2017 water year has been an extreme year thus far, with precipitation throughout the Central Valley on track to be the highest in our historic records,” said Reclamation’s Acting Mid-Pacific Regional Director Pablo Arroyave. “As such, Reclamation is taking an approach to the announcement of CVP water allocations this year that differs from our historic practice.”
Given that inflow to Shasta Lake has already exceeded the volume necessary to be certain that this is not declared a Shasta Critical Year, Reclamation has notified the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors and Refuge Contractors of that fact. Regarding the remainder of the allocations to CVP contractors, although the CVP is operationally integrated, each individual reservoir has unique and specific operational criteria that must also be met. With this initial allocation announcement, Reclamation is targeting districts that receive water directly from Folsom, New Melones and Millerton reservoirs given the large snow pack and unusually high projected runoff this spring and summer.
The remaining water service contractors can expect an initial contract allocation amount in mid-to-late March. As Reclamation continues to refine the water supply allocation for these contractors, Reclamation will take advantage of the current hydrology to ensure specific districts’ water needs are met to the maximum extent practicable. While this allocation approach is warranted now, in future years Reclamation will continue to strive to release initial allocations for all water users in February.
Specific to the South-of-Delta water service contractors, a substantial amount of CVP water is already in storage south of the Delta, and the Federal share of San Luis Reservoir will be full within the first week of March. Given the extraordinary large snow pack and very high river flows this year, much of the water currently in storage in the Federal share of San Luis Reservoir will be available for delivery to CVP water service contractors this spring and summer.
Reclamation currently estimates that at least 900 thousand acre-feet of water will be available for delivery to South-of-Delta water service contractors this year, and additional supplies will likely be available once seasonal operational forecasts are developed later in March. The 900 taf estimate represents the combined delivery of both 2017 CVP supplies and carryover supplies from last year. The exact amount of each type of supply is subject to hydrologic conditions this spring, and the overall allocation of water south of the Delta must be validated by the operational studies to be based on the March 1 snow surveys and runoff forecasts.
The California Department of Water Resources reports that as of Feb. 27, 2017, the statewide average snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada was 45 inches, as compared to 21 inches on Feb. 27, 2016. Precipitation is currently over 200 percent of the seasonal average to date for the Sierra Nevada for this point in the water year (beginning Oct. 1, 2016).
Reclamation determines the allocation of water for CVP contractors based upon many factors, including hydrologic conditions, reservoir storage levels, water quality requirements, water rights, contractual obligations and endangered species protection measures. After evaluating these factors, Reclamation is announcing the initial allocation to the following:
American River Division Contractors
American River Division M&I water service contractors will receive 100 percent of their contract supply.
Friant Division Contractors
Pursuant to Reclamation’s previous discussions with Friant Division contractors and based upon Millerton Lake storage as well as current and forecasted hydrologic conditions in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin, the Friant Division allocation is 100 percent of Class 1 supplies. In addition, as long as current hydrologic and operational conditions exist and there is a need to evacuate water from Millerton Lake in order to prevent or minimize spill or to meet flood control criteria (currently referred to as “uncontrolled season”), Friant contractors may schedule and take delivery of Class 2 supplies up to the contract maximum, consistent with contract terms and conditions.
Unreleased Restoration Flow supply related to the San Joaquin River Restoration Program of 358,730 acre-feet are being made available in a block that needs to be scheduled and delivered by June 15 to avert flood management concerns.
Eastside Water Service Contractors
Eastside water service contractors (Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District) will receive 100 percent of their contract supply.
This initial allocation is based on a conservative estimate of the amount of water that will be available for delivery to these CVP water users and reflects current reservoir storages, precipitation, and snowpack in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada. “We will continue to carefully monitor hydrologic conditions and collaborate with our stakeholders and partners to manage our water resources as effectively as possible,” said Arroyave.
The CVP began the 2017 water year last October with 4.9 million acre-feet of carryover storage in six key CVP reservoirs — Shasta, Trinity, Folsom, Millerton, New Melones and the Federal share of San Luis Reservoir. This is 82 percent of the 15-year average annual carryover and 2 million acre-feet more than the amount with which the Mid-Pacific Region began WY 2016 on Oct. 1, 2015.
As the water year progresses, changes in hydrology and opportunities to deliver additional water will influence future allocations. Water supply updates will be made as appropriate and posted at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvp-water/index.html.
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