State, Federal Agencies Release Low 2012 Water Allocation Estimates

Facing stubbornly dry conditions, state and federal agencies released low water supply allocation estimates today for 2012.

The California Department of Water Resources reduced its estimated water supply deliveries from 60% to 50% of contractors’ requests, a rare action.    

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has released similarly low allocation estimates for contractors of the federal Central Valley Project. Agricultural water contractors will receive 30% of supplies, municipal and industrial contractors 75%, and, in a move not seen since 1977, some pre-CVP water rights holders will receive just 75% of requested supplies.

The estimates come against the backdrop of an unusually dry winter which has produced just half the normal precipitation so far and less than a third of normal snowpack.

DWR’s rain and snow runoff for the year is forecasted to be far below average in both the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River systems. The median runoff forecast for the Sacramento River system would be the 16th driest in 106 years, while the Feb. 1 median water year runoff forecast for the San Joaquin River system would be the 21st driest in 111 years.

In addition, DWR’s eight-station index gauging runoff from Shasta Lake to the American River basin is at just 51% of its seasonal precipitation average.

The Bureau bases its allocations in part on DWR’s runoff forecast, and contractors whose allocations are based on pre-established Shasta inflow criteria are facing reductions.

Both agencies may update the allocations as conditions change. The Bureau is developing a CVP Water Plan 2012 to support water management efforts this year.

DWR's news release

Bureau's news release

State Water Contractors statement