Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor forecasted likely increases in water supplies in 2011 for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project (CVP) based on measurements of the early snowpack, runoff, reservoir storage information and actions by CVP partners. 

“The new year starts with an encouraging water supply forecast, thanks to the precipitation delivered by Mother Nature and the ongoing efforts of the Bureau of Reclamation and its partners in the Central Valley Project,” said Hayes. “If present conditions continue, agricultural, municipal and industrial water contractors as well as wildlife refuges are likely to receive increased water allocations in 2011.”

The combination of three factors—above-average early precipitation and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, improved carryover reservoir storage and a series of specific water augmentation activities developed in 2010—makes it likely that CVP water allocations for Water Year 2011 will exceed those of 2010.

The California Department of Water Resources’ first snow survey of the water year, held on December 28, 2010, reported snow water content to be 198 percent of normal statewide—as compared to 85 percent of normal on the first survey of last year. Precipitation in Northern California is currently approximately 68 percent of the seasonal average compared to 33 percent last year at this time. In addition, the snow water content in the Northern Sierras is approximately 174 percent of average for this date. Precipitation in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin is 38.03 inches as measured at Huntington Lake, compared to a 30-year average of 16.55 inches or 230 percent of average.

“Although these numbers are encouraging, it is still early in the water year, and winter precipitation will affect the final allocation,” Connor noted. “In the meantime, we will continue to work with our partners to improve the factors we can control, such as improved water storage and water augmentation activities.”

The CVP’s carryover storage from Water Year 2010 to 2011 was 7.4 million acre-feet on October 1, 2010, compared to a 4.4 million acre-feet carryover from WY 2009 to 2010. As of January 3, 2011, total CVP reservoir storage (including Millerton Reservoir) has improved to 8.3 million acre-feet of water. This compares to 4.9 million acre-feet on the same day in 2010.