Mar. 30, 2009 -- The Bureau of Reclamation announces that water allocations to senior water rights holders and wildlife refuges north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) have increased from 75 to 100 percent. The increases result from additional precipitation, improved snowpack, and improved runoff into Shasta Reservoir since the March snow surveys by the California Department of Water Resources' (DWR). Further, due to improved inflow to Millerton Lake, the Friant Division Class I allocation has increased from 65 to 85 percent. Reclamation is working closely with Central Valley Project (CVP) Municipal and Industrial (M&I) contractors both north and south of the Delta to determine if, to meet public health and safety needs, adjustments are needed to their allocations.
The increased allocations pave the way for several actions. With additional supply in the CVP system, more water may be available through the joint DWR/Reclamation Drought Water Bank, helping to meet critical water needs Statewide. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to postpone the summer delivery of a large portion of its San Joaquin valley water to Federal wildlife refuges until later in the year, freeing the water for other uses.
After 3 consecutive years of dry and critically dry conditions, the allocation for CVP agricultural water service contractors south of the Delta remains at zero percent and the allocation for M&I water contractors south of the Delta remains at 50 percent. The allocation to agricultural water service contractors north of the Delta is 5 percent, and the allocation to M&I contractors north of the Delta is 55 percent. These allocations are based on DWR's Mar. snow survey and also reflect the effects of various actions taken to address endangered species and water quality related issues. Reclamation is working diligently to improve available supplies and minimize hardships resulting from the water shortages.
One of the most impacted areas in California is the Central Valley, where thousands of acres are being fallowed and the unemployment rate has soared. In February 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a Proclamation declaring a State of Emergency as a result of the ongoing drought and directing immediate action to address the water supply situation. The Governor requested assistance from the Secretary of the Interior under the Reclamation Drought Relief Act, and Secretary Ken Salazar will soon announce his concurrence.
"I recently met with many of our affected water users to identify ways to minimize the adverse effects of this unprecedented allocation, and I saw firsthand its effects on unemployed workers," stated Donald Glaser, Regional Director for the Mid-Pacific Region."We are scheduling a series of meetings in these severely affected areas to explore every option to develop near-term and mid-term strategies to maximize the use of the entire CVP water supply and to determine how best to use existing authorities to address the most critical needs."
At the beginning of April 2009, DWR will conduct their fourth snow survey of the winter season. With the additional precipitation experienced since the Mar. snow survey and with improved runoff into CVP reservoirs, Reclamation anticipates announcing an updated water supply allocation in mid-to-late April 2009. Reclamation will continue to seek opportunities to collaborate with our affected CVP contractors, local officials, State and Federal agencies, and others to minimize the impacts of this water supply emergency on the citizens of California.
As updates to the water supply allocation are made, they will be posted on the Mid-Pacific Region's website.
The Bureau of Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits.