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Serving: West

DWR holds drought response workshop

The California Department of Water Resources will hold a San Diego workshop June 30, to provide updates on drought impacts and response activities.

Scheduled from 9:30 a.m. until noon, the workshop will take place in the Gallegos Room of Caltrans Building One at 4050 Taylor Street in San Diego.

Water year 2009 is California’s third consecutive dry year, with water years 2007 through 2009 representing the 12th driest three-year period in the state’s measured hydrologic record, based on the eight-station precipitation index. Water years 2007-2009 also mark a period of unprecedented restrictions in State Water Project (SWP) and federal Central Valley Project (CVP) diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to protect listed fish species, a regulatory circumstance that significantly exacerbates the impacts of hydrologic drought for customers of those water projects.

Presently, SWP deliveries to project contractors in Southern California are expected to be 40 percent of contractors’ requested amounts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Delta smelt biological opinion released last December called for measures that would, on average, result in an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent reduction in SWP and CVP Delta diversions. Subsequently, statewide precipitation for January 2009 was only about one-third of average, making it the eighth driest January on record.

These conditions, coupled with statewide reservoir storage at that time of only about 65 percent of average, led to the governor’s proclamation of a statewide water shortage emergency in February 2009.

Statewide reservoir storage has increased, reaching 80 percent of average in May. Statewide runoff for water year 2009 is projected to be 70 percent of average, an improvement over the 53 percent and 58 percent of average experienced in water years 2007 and 2008, respectively. Storage in many of the state’s groundwater basin is decreasing, as evidenced by groundwater level data collected by the department in response to the governor’s emergency proclamation.

Within Southern California, drought impacts include reduction in storage reserves intended to provide a buffer against shortages. Local water agencies are responding to reduced water supplies through actions such as voluntary and mandatory water conservation programs. Reductions in imported water supplies have caused significant cutbacks for growers participating in Metropolitan Water District’s interim agriculture water program, affecting avocado and citrus acreage particularly in San Diego and Riverside counties.

Previously, California’s last multi-year statewide drought occurred in 1987-1992. By the third year of that drought, statewide reservoir storage was about 40 percent of average and did not return to average conditions until 1994. The State Water Project terminated deliveries to agricultural contractors and provided only 30 percent of requested urban deliveries in 1991, the single driest year of that drought.

TAGS: Management
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