Persistent spring storms will allow the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to increase its 2010 allocation of State Water Project deliveries to 40 percent.
"Although the snowpack has reached its highest May 1 levels since 2006, and allows us to raise our projected deliveries to communities, farms and businesses, we must not be lulled into a false sense of complacency” said DWR Director Mark Cowin.
“The harsh reality is that we continue to have a severe problem with water in California. A 40 percent allocation will still leave many communities with water shortages this year. Recovering from three consecutive years of drought, and restrictions on Delta pumping, means we must continue to conserve water and work as hard as ever toward a comprehensive solution to our water crisis.”
The SWP allocation had been raised to 30 percent of contractors’ requests at the end of 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. The final snow survey of the year was conducted last week, and showed statewide Sierra snowpack water content was 143 percent of normal for the date.
Lake Oroville, the key Northern California storage reservoir for the SWP, has gained 490,000 acre feet since April 1, but still sits at 61 percent of capacity. Below average snowmelt run-off because of three consecutive dry years has hampered the reservoirs ability to fill.
Fishery agency restrictions on Delta pumping to protect delta smelt, salmon, and other fish species 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. DWR estimates that fishery restrictions have impacted State Water Project deliveries for 2010 by 560,000 acre feet. DWR will continue to evaluate conditions and plans to announce a final 2010 allocation of SWP deliveries at the end of May. 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. DWR, in partnership with the Association of California Water Agencies, will continue to run the Save Our Water program.