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Better late than never: Calif. growers get full allocations

This will be the first time since 2006 that SWP contractors get 100%.

Todd Fitchette, Associate Editor

April 21, 2023

2 Min Read
Millerton Lake
Millerton Lake in Central California. California water users who rely on the Bureau of Reclamation and State Water Project for surface deliveries were promised full allocations – 100% of their contractual allotments – for 2023.. Todd Fitchette

State and federal water contractors in California can expect a full allocation – 100% of their contractual promises – of surface water deliveries this summer. Near simultaneous announcements of the full allocations were recently made this week by the California Department of Water Resources, and Bureau of Reclamation.

Federal water contractors who rely on the Central Valley Project (CVP) will see 100% allocations north and south of the Delta this year, according to the Bureau of Reclamation. A similar promise was made to State Water Project contractors by California DWR.

On the federal side, Friant Division contractors – those who receive their water from Millerton Lake and the Friant-Kern Canal – are promised 100% of their Class 1 supply. This is the first 800,000 acre feet of water from the San Joaquin River. A Class 2 supply of water is the next available supply, up to 1.4 million acre feet of deliveries. The Bureau of Reclamation is currently promising 70% of that supply, based on current hydrologic conditions. The Class 2 supply was previously promised at 20%.

Friant Dam is currently being operated for flood control purposes. As these conditions exist, contractors may take delivery of all available water from Friant Dam to the maximum extent of their respective contracts, according to the USBR.

For State Water Project contractors, this is the first time since 2006 that those water users have all received a full allocation. The last full allocation of CVP water for agricultural uses south of the Delta was 2017. The only other time that south-of-Delta farmers received a 100% allocation from the CVP in the 21st Century was 2006.

San Luis Reservoir, the off stream storage facility near Los Banos that holds a near-equal amount of state and federal water, is full at just over 2 million acre feet. Lake Oroville in northern California is expected to fill by the end of May, according to DWR. Shasta Lake, the cornerstone reservoir in in the CVP, may also fill soon.

Because of the abnormally wet winter and high runoff projected, the State Water Project will allow state contractors with the ability to store water in their own systems, including through groundwater recharge, to take this water as part of what is called “Article 21” water. This additional water does not count against their SWP allocation, according to DWR, which oversees the State Water Project.

Between March 22 and April 20, the SWP delivered 228,000 acre feet of Article 21 water to local agencies, with an intent to deliver 37,000 additional acre feet in the coming week.

About the Author(s)

Todd Fitchette

Associate Editor, Western Farm Press

Todd Fitchette, associate editor with Western Farm Press, spent much of his journalism career covering agriculture in California and the western United States. Aside from reporting about issues related to farm production, environmental regulations and legislative matters, he has extensive experience covering the dairy industry, western water issues and politics. His journalistic experience includes local daily and weekly newspapers, where he was recognized early in his career as an award-winning news photographer.

Fitchette is US Army veteran and a graduate of California State University, Chico. 

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