It’s still early, but state water officials in California have set an initial allocation of 15 percent for water contractors who receive their irrigation and drinking water through the system.
The Dec. 1 prediction typically comes prior to heavy winter rain and snow that can fill California reservoirs and boost irrigation supplies to farmers who rely on the California Department of Water Resources to supply them with water.
While many of the state’s reservoirs are holding more water in reserve right now than historical averages, Lake Oroville – the State Water Project’s main reservoir – stands at 59 percent of its historical average for this time of year. Currently the lake sits at about 35 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity.
Water levels in Lake Oroville have been lowered to allow contractors to repair the main spillway which failed last year after record rains filled the reservoir and caused officials to try to evacuate water as fast as possible. Even then, so much water came into the reservoir that it over topped the emergency spillway for the first time since Oroville Dam was constructed in the late 1960's.
This time last year, DWR made a 20 percent initial allocation for the season, but wound up giving state contractors 85 percent of their requested supplies in spite of the wettest winter on record for much of California.