Last week the Bureau of Reclamation issued the updated allocations for Central Valley Project (CVP) South-of-Delta contractors for the 2019 contract year. South-of-Delta agricultural water service contractors will now be allocated 65 percent of their contract total, up from the 55 percent that was announced last month. All other CVP contractors’ allocations were previously increased to 100 percent of their contract totals.
While the increased allocation was a welcome development, multiple water contractors expressed disappointment that at a time when the snow water content is over 160 percent of the long-term average in the central Sierra Nevada, water allocations remain low. The San Luis-Delta Mendota Water Authority issued a statement in response to the allocation announcement, highlighting the regulatory inefficiencies of water management during one of the best water years in the historical record.
“Water management decisions are based on a regulatory regime that is inflexible and a lack of investment in storage and conveyance infrastructure means we cannot capture water in years of abundance and at a time when it is less harmful to the environment,” said the news release. “There is no question that existing regulations are not achieving their intended goals for the environment. It’s time to try something new.”
The last time that South-of-Delta contractors received a full 100 percent allotment was back in 2006. Westlands Water District General Manager Thomas Birmingham also expressed disappointment in the updated allocations and the regulations surrounding California’s water supply.
“Reclamation’s hands are tied by restrictions imposed by biological opinions issued under the Endangered Species Act,” Birmingham said in a press release. “These restrictions have crippled the CVP and have provided no demonstrative protection for listed fish species, all of which have continued to decline despite the draconian effect the biological opinions have had on water supply for people.”