State Water Project Allocations Off to a Dry Start

Yesterday the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced their initial State Water Project (SWP) allocation for contractors and the picture isn’t so great. Only 10 percent of requested supplies is expected to be delivered for the 2021 water year.

Initial allocations are based on conservative assumptions regarding hydrology and factors such as reservoir storage. DWR’s eight precipitation stations in Northern California recorded a record-low zero percent of average rainfall in October.

“While we still have several months ahead of us, dry conditions persist,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “As communities throughout California prepare to support their environment and economies through times of extended dry periods, state agencies plan together to support those communities. Californians can help by always using water carefully, inside and outside their homes and businesses.”

Most of the state’s major reservoirs are lower than historical average to date compared to a year ago. Lake Shasta, the federal Central Valley Project’s (CVP) largest reservoir, is at 75 percent compared to 119 percent its historical average to date in 2019. Lake Oroville, the SWP’s largest reservoir, holds 61 percent compared to 90 percent of its historical average to date in 2019. San Luis Reservoir, a joint-use facility for the SWP and CVP, now holds 76 percent compared to 72 percent of its historical average to date in 2019.

DWR will conduct the season’s first snow survey at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada on December 30, 2020. On average, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer.

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