With the 2020-21 water year off to a slow start, the California Department of Water Resources set its initial water allocation at 10% of requested supplies.
The allocation amounts to 422,848 acre-feet of water, distributed among the 29 long-term SWP contractors who serve more than 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland, a news release explains.
“While we still have several months ahead of us, dry conditions persist,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said. “As communities throughout California prepare to support their environment and economies through times of extended dry periods, state agencies plan together to support those communities. Californians can help by always using water carefully, inside and outside their homes and businesses.”
Officials cautioned that initial allocations are based on conservative assumptions regarding hydrology and factors such as reservoir storage. Allocations can rise as the season progresses depending on snowpack and runoff information. The final allocation for 2019-20 was 20%.
Most of the state’s major reservoirs are lower than historical average to date compared to a year ago, the DWR reports. Shasta Lake, the federal Central Valley Project’s) largest reservoir, is at 75% compared to 119% of its historical average to date in 2019.
Lake Oroville, the SWP’s largest reservoir, holds 61% compared to 90% of its historical average a year ago. San Luis Reservoir, a joint-use facility for the SWP and CVP, now holds 76% compared to 72% of its historical average to date in 2019.
Weather forecasters have warned that a second straight dry winter in California could lead to the kind of drastic water conservation measures taken during the 2012-16 drought.