Citing April’s wintry Sierra storms, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has increased its 2010 allocation of State Water Project deliveries to 30 percent.
“The spring storms have been good to California’s snowpack, allowing us to increase our water deliveries to communities, farms and businesses this year,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “Still, three years of drought, low reservoir storage and regulatory limits on Delta pumping to protect fish keep our allocations far below average and underscore the need for ongoing conservation across the state.”
The SWP allocation had been set at 20 percent of contractors’ requests earlier in April. The initial 2010 allocation estimate, made back in December 2009, was 5 percent. That projection rose incrementally as snowpack accumulated during winter and early spring. Later in May, DWR expects to make a final allocation announcement.
Electronic snow surveys indicate that statewide, water content in the mountain snowpack is 132 percent of normal for the date. Electronic readings may be found at http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/DLYSWEQ.
A final manual snow survey will be conducted on April 30.
Lake Oroville in Butte County, the key Northern California storage reservoir for the State Water Project (SWP), remains low, at 55 percent of capacity, recovering slowly after three consecutive dry years. Reservoir storage levels may be found at http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/reservoirs/RES.
Fishery agency restrictions on Delta pumping continue to limit amounts of water that can be delivered to SWP contractors serving the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast and Southern California.
In 2009, the SWP delivered 40 percent of the amount requested by the 29 public agencies with long-term contracts to buy SWP water. The SWP contractors deliver water to about 25 million Californians and 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.