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2014 water allocations are lowest ever

But local water official says dire estimate likely to improve

Posted: November 23, 2013 3:00 p.m.
Updated: November 23, 2013 3:00 p.m.

SANTA CLARITA - One of the driest years in the history of California has left State Water Project contractors with just a trickle of the water they requested, and expect, from Northern California.

But local water officials say Santa Clarita Valley residents need not worry, thanks to locally stored water.

The California Department of Water Resources last week notified 29 water agencies contracting with the state for water that they would receive 5 percent of the Northern California water they requested.

Every year before December, state water resource officials assess how much water they have stored and how much they believe is contained in precipitation, principally snow packs. Based on that assessment, they decide how much water they can send through the State Water Project network of aqueducts and pumping stations to thirsty Southern California contractors.

One of those contractors is the Castaic Lake Water Agency, which supplies about 50 percent of the Santa Clarita Valley’s drinking water. The other 50 percent comes from groundwater sources.

“This past year, 2013, has been the driest year on record,” said Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

And 2013 ties with 2010 for the lowest initial allocation ever set, said Ted Thomas, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources.

But the dire forecast of just 5 percent of requested water is not likely to stand, Masnada said. Initial allocations are based on the amount of water stored in Northern California reservoirs, state officials said, and do not factor in any winter rainfall.

“Worst case scenario: It does not change, and in that case we would take water out of storage,” Masnada said. “But, typically, it (the annual allocation) goes up to 15 percent by April. If it goes to 15 percent, we won’t have to take water out of storage.”

“We hope things improve with this winter’s storms,” said Water Resources Director Mark Cowin. “But there is no guarantee that 2014 won’t be our third consecutive dry year,” he said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“Today’s allocation is a stark reminder that California’s fickle weather demands that we make year-round conservation a way of life.”
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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