State Lowers Water Allocation to 5% of Requests

As a result of persistent drought conditions, the State Water Project (SWP) now expects to deliver just 5% of requested supplies this year, down from an initial 10% allocation announced in December.

The 5% allocation amounts to 210,266 acre-feet of water, distributed among 29 long-term SWP contractors who serve more than 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland.

Initial allocations are based on conservative assumptions regarding hydrology and factors such as reservoir storage. Reviewed monthly, allocations may change based on snowpack and runoff information, which the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) typically finalizes by May.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project (CVP), yesterday announced that its CVP water supply allocation to agricultural water service contractors south of the Delta will not be available for delivery until further notice.

Reservoir Capacities

DWR figures show that the severity of California’s dry conditions is particularly evident in the northern part of the state. Lake Oroville is currently at 53% percent of average. The Feather River watershed, which feeds into Lake Oroville, has seen significantly less precipitation this year than normal, and is on track for its second driest year on record.

Following a below-average 2020 water year, California’s major reservoirs are at 50% of capacity.

For information on current water conditions at the state’s largest reservoirs and weather stations, visit the California Data Exchange Center website.