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Official: State water plentiful

Posted: April 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Water, water everywhere.

That’s the ecstatic sentiment voiced by Santa Clarita Valley’s leading water man on hearing news the state is sending us more state water.

“We’re in fantastic shape,” said Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency which contracts with the state to receive water from Northern California.

“We have more than enough water to meet our needs,” Masnada said Thursday.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Water Resources said contractors of the State Water Project can count on 80 percent of the water they requested. It will be the highest allocation since 2006.

The wettest winter and spring in more than a decade prompted state officials to boost the amount of water available to agencies that supply 25 million California residents and almost a million acres of farmland.

Heavy March snowfall in the Sierra Nevada and wet-spring-filled reservoirs built a hefty supply of water that the state can tap during the summer and fall.

But it’s still not all that cities and farms of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California had asked for, even after the wettest weather since 1995.

“It’s good news for State Water Project contractors, as a whole,” Masnada said.

“We’ve banked as much water as we possibly could, in addition to already meeting all the demands for this year,” he said. “This will allow us to carry over water this year into next year.”

Dave Kranz, spokesman for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said the allocation is better than farmers have seen in recent years, but he noted water supplies remain limited even though the Sierra snowpack is well above-average.

“That indicates the need for a long-term solution in order to capture more of that water for use in dry years,” he said.

Building more reservoirs or a canal around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to increase water supplies has been a perennial issue at the state Capitol, and is stirring again.

The last time contractors of the State Water Project got all the water they asked for was 2006. In that year, the state’s snowpack on April 1 was 125 percent of average for the date, but storms continued into April and May, said Frank Gehrke, chief of snow surveys for the water-resources department.

The record snowpack was set in 1983, when it was 227 percent of normal.

The snowpack this year on April 1 was 171 percent of average. A final determination on the water allocation will come by the end of May, and will be based on spring precipitation and concerns about fish in the delta.

Last year, the State Water Project supplied half the amount requested by its contractors.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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