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State Water Project allocations for 2018 inch up to 35 percent for State Water Contractors
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced a slight increase in State Water Project (SWP) allocations for the 29 SWP contractors, rising from April’s 30 percent allocation to now 35 percent of allocation requests. SWP contractors were initially told in December to expect a 15 percent allocation, which was later raised to 20 percent in January.
“Late season rain and snow in March and April salvaged what would have been a severely dry year, which allows us to make this slight increase in allocation,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Our water storage is currently in fair condition, but the state’s snowpack is still low, so Californians need to continue to embrace water conservation as a crucial part of our lifestyle.”
Unlike last year when torrential rains and an abundant Sierra Nevada snowpack blessed the state after a searing five-year drought, this year’s precipitation statewide snow water content topped just 44 percent of average on April 21. Snowpack accumulation for the year is well below average because warm temperatures brought more rain than snow in the Northern Sierra. In comparison, the SWP allocation announcement on April 14 of last year was 100 percent for contractors north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and 85 percent of requests for other contractors.
“The ‘climate whiplash’ we’re experiencing between wet and dry extremes is the new norm, requiring public water agencies to carefully manage and conserve supplies, said Jennifer Pierre, general manager of the “We welcome this much-needed boost to our water supplies — and thank DWR for keeping the SWP facilities humming by capturing and storing our state’s most critical resource as nature supplies it,”. “It also means we must continue investing in and maintaining our SWP infrastructure while concurrently expanding our local supply projects and conservation efforts.”
Two-thirds of the state’s water supply originates from the Sierra Nevada mountains as snowmelt. It serves as California’s lifeline to 25 million Californians, 750,000 acres of fertile agricultural land and a variety of industries that form the backbone of the state’s economy. DWR transports SWP water to 29 SWP contractors through the state’s dams and canals to more than 27 million Californians.
Snow water content and reservoir storage are among the factors used in determining allocations for SWP contractors. Although most of the state’s major reservoir levels continue to be above their historical averages they are lower in percentage of capacity today than last month. San Luis Reservoir, the largest off-stream reservoir in the United States and where water is stored for the SWP and the Central Valley Project (CVP), is at 79 percent of capacity. Shasta Lake, the CVP’s largest reservoir, is at 89 percent of capacity. Lake Oroville and New Melones Lake are at 69 percent and 83 percent of capacity, respectively.
The SWP’s Pierre acknowledged the DWR and SWP efforts in this difficult time by saying, “We welcome this much-needed boost to our water supplies — and thank DWR for keeping the SWP facilities humming by capturing and storing our state’s most critical resource as nature supplies it.”