Farm Progress

Improved water conditions allows California Department of Water Resources to boost promised deliveries of state-controlled water to 60 percent

January 19, 2017

1 Min Read
The California Aqueduct conveys water from northern to southern California.Todd Fitchette

California’s epic drought may be waning as reservoirs fill and flood waters restore aquifers, but that’s not enough for the state to promise a full allotment of water this year.

Still, the news is positive as the Department of Water Resources (DWR) upped its allocation from 45 percent to 60 percent of the water supply it controls across the state.

“Our water supply outlook is definitely brighter, but we still haven’t shaken off the effects of our historic drought,” said DWR Acting Director William Croyl in a prepared statement.

The 29 agricultural and urban water users served by the State Water Project (SWP) requested 4.17 million acre feet of SWP water deliveries earlier in the year.

Much of that water is held behind Oroville Dam in northern California, where current storage is about 80 percent of the 3.5 million acre foot capacity.

DWR has not allocated 100 percent of the water it controls since 2006 because of regulatory restrictions on Delta water pumping, which is used to store water in San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos.

The off-stream reservoir is used to meter out water during California’s long, dry summers, but in past years has been limited because the state failed to increase storage because of the pumping restrictions ostensibly used to protect endangered fish.

Last year SWP contractors received 60 percent of their water requests, the highest received since 2012 when 65 percent was released for use by water users.

The likelihood that water users will receive a full allotment this year, in spite of the promising water conditions is unlikely because of regulatory constraints.

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