The Bureau of Reclamation recently announced the initial water supply allocation for 2019 for Central Valley Project (CVP) water service contractors. North-of-Delta contractors have been allocated 70 percent and agricultural water service contractors South-of-Delta were allocated 35 percent of their contract supply. Eastside water service contractors will be receiving 100 percent of their contract total. The initial water supply allocation for Friant Division contractors is being based on “uncontrolled season” conditions, allowing for a 100 percent allocation for Class 1.
“Though we’ve had a great start to 2019, our experience as the operator of this complex and important infrastructure dictates we act conservatively at this time of year,” Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region Director Ernest Conant said in the allocation announcement. “In particular, we are closely monitoring the current and projected storage at Shasta Lake, which is the largest reservoir in the CVP.”
Despite storm systems delivering a significant amount of rain over the past six weeks, current reservoir levels are comparable to where they were at the same time last year. Conant noted during a media call that at the beginning of the water year which began in October 2018 there were 6.8 million acre-feet of water in storage in the six key CVP reservoirs. By comparison, there were 8.9 million acre-feet going into the 2018 water year.
“This year has been a very interesting one,” said Conant. “We are back up to well above average for precipitation to date and our snowpack is also well above average. That said, runoff into our reservoirs is catching up from being below average for the first part of the year and we are still early in the year so there’s still a fair amount of uncertainty about what lies ahead.”
As of February 19, the California Department of Water Resources reports that the statewide average snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada snowpack is 146 percent of the average for the date. The snowpack is also 116 percent of the April 1 average. Future allocations will be announced as the water year continues to progress and there are changes to reservoir levels and overall hydrology in the state.