Thanks to early season storms, the Department of Water Resources increased its water delivery estimate for calendar year 2013 from 30 to 40 percent of requested State Water Project water.
The delivery estimate – or allocation – of SWP water is expected to further increase as more winter storms roll in. The state normally receives more than 90 percent of its snow and rain from Decemberthrough April.
Storms last month and those currently sweeping California have replenished reservoirs and deepened the mountain snowpack that normally provides a third of our water as it slowly melts in the spring and early summer.
Lake Oroville in Butte County, the State Water Project’s principal storage reservoir with a capacity of 3.5million acre-feet, is at 67 percent of capacity, 107 percent of normal for the date.
Shasta Lake north of Redding, the federal Central Valley Project’s principal storage reservoir with a capacity of 4.5 million acre-feet, is at 68 percent of capacity, 109 percent of normal for the date.
The mountain snowpack today holds 93 percent of average water content for the date.
Just a normal winter will significantly increase the allocation of 40 percent of the slightly more than four million acre-feet requested by the 29 public agencies (State Water Project Contractors) that supply SWP water to more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland.
The final SWP allocation this calendar year (2012) was 65 percent of requested deliveries. The final allocation was 80 percent in 2011, up dramatically from the initial allocation of 25 percent. The final allocation was 50 percent in 2010, 40 percent in 2009, 35 percent in 2008, and 60 percent in 2007. The last 100 percent allocation – difficult to achieve even in wet years because of Delta pumping restrictions to protect threatened and endangered fish – was in 2006.
Electronic reservoir level readings may be found at http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/products/rescond.pdf .