California’s water contractors get full supply from the state and federal systems

April 20, 2023
Jesse Vad, SJV Water
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water
The California Aqueduct near Lost Hills in Kern County, carries water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to users through the Central Valley and into southern California. Lois Henry / SJV Water
Jesse Vad, SJV Water
Jesse Vad, SJV Water

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Water users for both the State Water Project and Central Valley Project will get a 100% allocation, agencies announced Thursday. The string of storms that battered California over the past few months have inundated the state with water and built up a record-breaking snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The extraordinary amount of water is responsible for the rare increase to 100% allocations. 

The State Water Project is a network of reservoirs and canals that serve 29 water agencies, 27 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland. The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) Thursday announced an increase to a 100% allocation for water users, up from 75% in March. The last time there was a full allocation was 2006. 

“Water supply conditions and careful management of reservoir operations during this extreme winter allows DWR to maximize water deliveries while enhancing protections for the environment,” said Karla Nemeth, director of DWR, in a press release. “DWR is moving and storing as much water as possible to the benefit of communities, agriculture, and the environment.”

The allocation will be finalized in May or June and will be in effect until the end of the calendar year, said a spokesperson for DWR. Then the process of an initial allocation forecast starts all over again in December. 

The federal Central Valley Project, another system of reservoirs and canals that transport water to agricultural and municipal contractors, also saw an increase in allocation Thursday. The Bureau of Reclamation announced an increase to 100% for contractors operating both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Most contractors were at 80% in March. This is the first time since 2017 the CVP has a 100% allocation. 

The news is a welcomed moment of relief for irrigation districts, many of which have received no allocation for the past couple years of severe drought. 

Westlands Water District was among those agencies that received a 0% allocation for the past two years. 

“We are exceedingly grateful to Reclamation, and its dedicated and hard-working staff, for the increased water allocation,” said Jose Gutierrez, Westlands’ interim general manager, in a press release. “Following two years of 0% allocations, this announcement will provide much needed water to support the District’s communities, family-owned farms, and hard-working families in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Jesse Vad, SJV Water

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


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