California's Department of Water Resources has set an initial water allocation of 10 percent for State Water Project contractors for the 2019 calendar year while noting that the allocation will likely change with hydrologic and water supply conditions.
“Even with the recent rainfall, Water Year 2019 has started dry and many of the state’s largest reservoirs are below average for this time of year,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “With California’s extreme hydrology, we have to plan for a wet or dry year.”
The Department’s initial allocation for 2018 was 15 percent. The final allocation for 2018 reached 35 percent. The lowest initial SWP allocation was 5 percent in 2014 due to the record drought.
Reservoir storage, snowpack, precipitation, and releases to meet local deliveries are among several factors used in determining allocations, officials explain in a news release.
Lake Oroville, the SWP’s largest reservoir, is at 29 percent capacity and 48 percent of average for this time of the year. Shasta Lake, the Central Valley Project’s (CVP) largest reservoir, is at 48 percent of capacity and 80 percent of average. San Luis Reservoir, the largest off-stream reservoir in the United States where water is stored for the SWP and CVP, is at 57 percent of capacity and 96 percent of average.
The announcement follows more than a week of storms that dumped more than 6 inches of rain on Redding, more than 4 inches in Red Bluff, nearly 2.5 inches in Sacramento and more than an inch in Fresno, according to the National Weather Service. After a slow start, the storms have pushed much of the Central Valley above its average rainfall total for this point in the season.
DWR sends water to 29 SWP contractors which serve more than 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland. The 2019 initial allocation amounts to 427,167 acre-feet of water.