Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Bureau of Reclamation forecasts reduced water deliveries to California

san luis reservoir
San Luis Reservoir, located south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, was designed to store water captured during winter and spring runoff for using during the summer.

Based on  below-average statewide snowpack, the Bureau of Reclamation recently announced reduced water allocations for nearly all Central Valley Project water contractors. Deliveries could change depending on precipitation received during the next few months, said Ernest Conant, Reclamation regional director.

The California Department of Water Resources reports that as of Feb. 21, statewide average snow water content in the Sierra Nevada was 54% of the Apr. 1 average. Current Northern Sierra precipitation is 52% of the seasonal average to date.

“After a slow start to the water year and despite a couple of precipitation-packed storms in January and February, conditions in California unfortunately remain below average,” Conant said during a virtual press conference.

Moving into the 2020-21 water year, which began Oct. 1, 2020, 6 million acre-feet were stored in the CVP’s six key reservoirs. That also marked 99% of the 15-year average.

Shasta Reservoir’s 4.5 million acre-feet capacity represents the majority of CVP water storage. Expected inflow into the reservoir is the basis of allocations for Sacramento River settlement contractors, San Joaquin River exchange contractors, San Joaquin settlement contractors and refuge contractors.

In addition, several south-of-Delta and Friant Division contractors are rescheduling unused water from 2020 supplies into 2021. That water is being stored in San Luis Reservoir and Millerton Lake. The option to reschedule (carry over) water in San Luis Reservoir and Millerton Lake from one contract year to the next has been available to the water service contractors since the early 1990s.

Feb. 23 allocations included:

North-of-Delta contractors (including American River and In-Delta contractors)

• Agricultural water service contractors north-of-Delta are allocated 5% of their contract supply of 443,000 acre-feet.
• Pursuant to Reclamation’s municipal and industrial water shortage guidelines, M&I water service contractors north-of-Delta (including American River and In-Delta Contractors) are allocated 55% of their historic use or public health and safety needs, whichever is greater.
• Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are allocated 75% of their contract supply of 2.2 million acre-feet.

Eastside water service contractors

•Eastside water service contractors (Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District) are allocated 100% of their contract total.

South-of-Delta contractors

• Agricultural water service contractors south-of-Delta are allocated 5% of their contract supply of 1.965 million acre-feet.
• M&I water service contractors south-of-Delta are allocated the greater of 55% of their historic use or public health and safety needs, whichever is greater.
• The San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors and San Joaquin Settlement Contractors are allocated 75% of their contract supply.

Wildlife refuges

• Wildlife refuges (Level 2) north- and south-of-Delta, which also have allocations subject to pre-established Shasta inflow criteria, are allocated 75% of their contract supply of 122,000 acre-feet

Friant Division

•  Friant Division contractors’ water supply develops in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin Watershed and is delivered from Millerton Lake through Friant Dam to the Madera Canal and Friant-Kern Canal. The first 800,000 acre-feet of available water supply is considered Class 1; Class 2 is considered the next amount of available water supply up to 1.4 million acre-feet.

Given the current hydrologic conditions, Friant Class 1 initial allocation will be 20% and Class 2 will be 0%.

For the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, Reclamation is currently forecasting a “dry” water year type, providing for 170,732 acre-feet to be used for restoration program purposes.

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