Central Valley Project Contractors receive dismal water allocation from Reclamation

The Bureau of Reclamation made its initial 2021 water supply allocation announcement for Central Valley Project contractors this week and the news is not great for north and south of the Delta.

“Although we had a couple of precipitation-packed storms in January and early February, we are still well below normal for precipitation and snowfall this year,” said Regional Director Ernest Conant. “We will monitor the hydrology as the water year progresses and continue to look for opportunities for operational flexibility.”

The last manual snow survey conducted by the California Department of Water Resources reported that  statewide average snow water content in the Sierra Nevada was 54% of the Apr. 1 average and current Northern Sierra precipitation was 52% of the seasonal average. This has caused the Bureau to notify contractors that forecasted inflow to Shasta Lake falls below the threshold and that 2021 is currently identified as a “Critical Year”.

The initial water delivery allocations by Reclamation are:

North-of-Delta Contractors (Including American River and In-Delta Contractors)

  • Agricultural water service contractors north-of-Delta are allocated 5% of their contract supply.
  • Pursuant to Reclamation’s municipal and industrial water shortage guidelines, M&I water service contractors north-of-Delta (including American River and In-Delta Contractors) are allocated 55% of their historic use or public health and safety needs, whichever is greater.
  • Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are allocated 75% of their contract supply.

Eastside Water Service Contractors

  • Eastside water service contractors (Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District) are allocated 100% of their contract total.

South-of-Delta Contractors

  • Agricultural water service contractors south-of-Delta are allocated 5% of their contract supply.
  • M&I water service contractors south-of-Delta are allocated the greater of 55% of their historic use or public health and safety needs, whichever is greater.
  • The San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors and San Joaquin Settlement Contractors are allocated 75% of their contract supply.

Wildlife Refuges

  • Wildlife refuges (Level 2) north- and south-of-Delta, which also have allocations subject to pre-established Shasta inflow criteria, are allocated 75% of their contract supply.

Friant Division

  • Friant Division contractors’ water supply develops in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin Watershed and is delivered from Millerton Lake through Friant Dam to the Madera Canal and Friant-Kern Canal. The first 800,000 acre-feet of available water supply is considered Class 1; Class 2 is considered the next amount of available water supply up to 1.4 million acre-feet. Given the current hydrologic conditions, Friant Class 1 initial allocation will be 20% and Class 2 will be 0%.
  • For the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, Reclamation is currently forecasting a “Dry” water year type, providing for 170,732 acre-feet to be used for Restoration Program purposes.

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