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Lawmakers push for more flexible water operationsLawmakers push for more flexible water operations

GOP Reps. McCarthy, LaMalfa, others urge state and federal agencies to store more water amid extreme drought.

Farm Press Staff

March 9, 2022

2 Min Read
The San Luis Reservoir in 2019.Tim Hearden

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other California Republicans are urging the Bureau of Reclamation and state Department of Water Resources to seek more flexibility in their operations to store more water upstream during the severe drought.

The lawmakers want the agencies to submit a Temporary Urgency Change Petition to the State Water Resources Control Board so they can lower operational requirements over the next several months. The agencies submitted such a petition this fall but withdrew it after December's rains.

McCarthy was joined by GOP Reps. Doug LaMalfa, Ken Calvert, Tom McClintock and David Valadao in sending a letter to the two agencies. The lawmakers are concerned about drought conditions worsening hydrologic operations, and water flow releases unable to meet Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta outflow and salinity requirements, they said in a joint release.

“Despite heavy storms in Northern California this December, state water storage levels are still well below their annual average," LaMalfa said. "Lake Shasta is 580,000 acre-feet short of its storage total on this date last year, and remains at 37% of total capacity and 52% of historical average. Lake Oroville is at 47% capacity, nearly 2 million acre-feet short of its storage total.

"We must conserve the limited water supply we do have before regulators needlessly send the water to the ocean without any benefit to humans or species," he said. "With water levels this low we need to conserve every drop. Everyone is going to be affected by the lack of water and we can’t waste it hoping more miraculously shows up."

The letter comes as the bureau recently announced a zero allocation for most Central Valley Project contractors both north and south of the Delta. The DWR said in January that it would deliver 15% of requested State Water Project supplies.

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