It was to be expected following consecutive dry years. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced that its initial State Water Project (SWP) allocation for 2022 will focus on the health and safety needs of the 29 water agencies that contract to receive SWP supplies.
DWR has advised State Water Contractors to expect an initial allocation that prioritizes health and safety water needs and that the SWP will not be planning water deliveries through its typical allocation process until the state has a clearer picture of the hydrologic and reservoir conditions going into the spring.
“Despite a wet start to the water year, conditions have dried out since that first storm and we are still planning for a below-average water year. That means we need to prepare now for a dry winter and severe drought conditions to continue through 2022,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “We will be working with our federal partners and SWP contractors to take a conservative planning approach to balance limited water supplies with the needs of residents, businesses, and the environment.”
DWR will prioritize water supply in four categories:
- water for health and safety needs and Delta salinity control;
- water for endangered species;
- water to reserve in storage;
- and water for additional supply allocations if the hydrology allows.
In addition to limiting deliveries, DWR is also planning on adjusting operations of the SWP through the winter and spring. That includes capturing and storing water when possible in Lake Oroville and south of the Delta in San Luis Reservoir to increase available supplies for 2022.
“It is going to take a multi-pronged approach to successfully respond to these unprecedented drought conditions,” said Nemeth.