The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced a statewide increase in water allocations. Going forward, the vast majority of State Water Project (SWP) contractors will receive 20 percent of their requests. Statewide allocations are based on conservative assumptions and may change depending on rain and snow received this winter. The initial December allocation provided 15 percent to most SWP contractors.
“This incremental adjustment to allocations reflects only very modest improvements to water supply,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “California’s variable weather is why we all must make conservation a way of life to sustain our economy and our environment in an ever-changing climate.”
The state’s major reservoirs continue to be well above their historical averages thanks to last year’s record year. DWR’s California Data Exchange Center website shows current water conditions at the state’s largest reservoirs and weather stations and measures current rain and snow precipitation.
“Unfortunately, the water content of the January snowpack is only slightly higher than it was in January 2015 while we were in the middle of a crippling statewide drought,” said SWP Water Operations Executive Manager John Leahigh. “However, we are only halfway through California’s rainy season and have many opportunities to see a significant improvement in conditions.”
DWR will conduct the season’s second manual snow survey on February 1, 2018 at Phillips Station. On average, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer. The greater the snowpack water content, the greater the likelihood California’s reservoirs will receive ample runoff as the snowpack melts to meet the state’s water demand in the summer and fall.
Nearly all areas served by the SWP have sources of water other than the allocation, among them streams, groundwater, and local reservoirs. DWR is hopeful that today’s SWP allocation will increase as storms bring rain and snow to the state.