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Record Dry Season, Pumping Restrictions Force State to Lower State Water Project Delivery Projection

Posted: March 22, 2013 3:48 p.m.
Updated: March 22, 2013 3:48 p.m.
 

Sacramento, CA—The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced today that water allocations from the State Water Project have been reduced to 35% from 40% due to a record dry January and February, coupled with a grim outlook for rain conditions in March, and pumping restrictions that were imposed in December and January to protect Delta smelt and salmon. Recent pumping restrictions resulted in more than 550,000 acre-feet of water lost from the State Water Project and more than 300,000 acre-feet of water lost from the Central Valley Project – water that could have been stored and would have provided an important safety net during this record dry spell. DWR rarely lowers allocation projections. In fact, allocations have only been reduced 3 times since 1970.

Each year, DWR provides water agencies with periodic estimates of how much water they will receive from the State Water Project during the year ahead. The estimate is quantified as a percentage of the amount of water the water agencies have available to them under their contracts with the state. Water agencies rarely receive 100% of their allocation. Regardless though of how much is actually delivered, State Water Project contractors are required to pay for 100% of the amount of water included in their contracts.

“This reduction in allocations illustrates the need for water infrastructure that is flexible enough to capture supplies when they are available,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors. “There is no way to predict the amount of rain and snow we will get each year, which is why it is vital that we capture water when it is available so we can save it for these dry spells. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan will provide this flexibility so water can be captured and delivered reliably to the 25 million Californians who rely on water from the Delta.”

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) provides water for 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland, but is rarely a reliable source. Even in extremely wet years, water deliveries have been limited because of various regulations – similar to what occurred in December and January. The state and federal governments have recently begun releasing a preliminary draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). Seven years in the making, the BDCP is a science-based, comprehensive solution designed to safeguard this vital water supply source and protect the fragile ecosystem in the Delta. The BDCP will allow for the capture of excess water during wet seasons while also protecting the state’s water supply from earthquake and climate change.

For more information on the BDCP, please visit www.baydeltaconservationplan.com or swc.org/issues/bay-delta-conservation-plan.

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The State Water Contractors is a statewide, non-profit association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project. Collectively the State Water Contractors deliver water to more than 25 million residents throughout the state and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural lands. For more information on the State Water Contractors, please visit www.swc.org.

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