The 2014 State Water Project (SWP) allocation is now zero-nil-nada-not nary a drop.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) took this action Jan. 31 to “conserve the state’s precious resources and protect Californians’ health and safety from more severe shortages in the months ahead.”

The bottom line, the state agency says, is that farmers, fish, and people in cities and towns will get less water.

"The harsh weather leaves us little choice," said DWR Director Mark Cowin. 

The DWR action is in response to Governor Jerry Brown’s Jan. 19 state drought emergency.

Director Cowan said, "If we are to have any hope of coping with continued dry weather and balancing multiple needs, we must act now to preserve what water remains in our reservoirs."

Except for a small amount of carryover water from 2013, SWP customers will get no deliveries in 2014 if current dry conditions persist.

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Deliveries to agricultural districts with long-standing water rights in the Sacramento Valley could be cut 50 percent - the maximum permitted by contract - depending upon future snow survey results.

DWR says many areas served by the SWP have other sources of water, including groundwater, local reservoirs, and other supplies.

“It is our duty to give State Water Project customers a realistic understanding of how much water they will receive from the Project,” Cowin said. “Simply put, there’s not enough water in the system right now for customers to expect any water this season from the project.”

DWR has asked the SWRCB to adjust water permit terms that control State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project operations in order to preserve dwindling supplies in upstream reservoirs for farms, fisheries, and cities and towns as the drought continues.

While additional winter storms could provide a limited boost to reservoir storage and water deliveries, DWR says heavy rain and snow are needed every other day from now until May to get to an average annual rain and snowfall.

But DPR says California still would be in a drought since a normally wet December and January have been critically dry, and follow a record dry 2013 and a dry 2012.

After two previous dry years, DPR says 2014 is shaping up as the driest in state history. Current water storage in key reservoirs is lower than at this period in 1977, one of the two previous driest water years on record.

The Sierra snow survey Jan. 30 found the snowpack’s statewide water content at only 12 percent of average for this time of year.