May 21, 2009
California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) has increased this year’s State Water Project (SWP) delivery allocation from 30 percent to 40 percent.
Long-term SWP contractors will see an increase from 1,249,913 acre-feet to 1,666,550 acre-feet. Wednesday’s announcement increasing deliveries is the final allocation report for the year. “Early May snow and rain improved the water supply situation enough to allow this modest expansion,” said DWR Director Lester A. Snow. “However, this small increase in SWP deliveries does not mean California has overcome the effects of three consecutive dry years. In fact, 2007 to 2009 will likely rank in the top 10 driest three-year periods in the last century.
Gov. Schwarzenegger’s statewide drought declaration remains in effect and all Californians must heed his call to reduce their water use.” Subsequently, DWR is encouraging its contractors to put increased supplies in storage and pursue conservation measures wherever possible. SWP contractors requested their maximum allocation this year of 4,166,376 acre-feet. Even with a boost to 40 percent, they will receive only slightly more than a third of that amount and must rely on dry water year contingency plans to meet their needs.
Since the State Water Project began allocating deliveries in 1968, there have been only three other final allocations lower than this year’s: 35 percent in 2008, 39 percent in 2001 and 30 percent in 1991.
Lake Oroville, the main reservoir in the SWP system, is still 25 percent below average for this time of year and stands at just 64 percent of capacity. In addition to low water supply conditions caused by drought, a federal court ruling to protect endangered fish species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has reduced SWP pumping capacity. The contractors deliver water to more than 25 million California residents and provide an irrigation source for more than 750,000 acres of farmland.
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