Bureau Outlines Initial 2021 CVP Water Allocation

  • by ACWA Staff
  • Feb 23, 2021
  • Water News

The Bureau of Reclamation on Feb. 23 announced the initial 2021 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project contractors. Allocation amounts are based on an estimate of water available for delivery to CVP water users and reflects current reservoir storages, precipitation, and snowpack in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada. This year’s low allocation is an indicator of the dry winter California is experiencing after the dry water year of 2020.

“Although we had a couple of precipitation-packed storms in January and early February, we are still well below normal for precipitation and snowfall this year,” said Regional Director Ernest Conant in a Bureau of Reclamation news release. “We will monitor the hydrology as the water year progresses and continue to look for opportunities for operational flexibility.”

In response to today’s announcement, Westlands Water District General Manager Tom Birmingham issued the following statement in a news release:

“Today’s announcement is no surprise given current hydrologic conditions and regulations that restrict operations of the Central Valley Project, but it is devastating nonetheless for farmers and communities across the region that rely on water from the CVP and jobs created by irrigated agriculture. It’s also yet another reminder of the urgency behind our continued work with policymakers, regulators and the farming community to maximize water use efficiency, improve climate resilience, and ensure greater water supply reliability now and in the future.”

The Friant Water Authority also issued a news release following the Bureau’s announcement:

“We anticipate that many growers throughout the south San Joaquin Valley and on the Eastside will need to rely heavily on groundwater supplies, just as they did in 2020,” the release stated.  “This is likely to further exacerbate the type of regional land elevation subsidence that has so dramatically reduced the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal and other valley canals. This makes our efforts to increase the availability of surface supplies to the San Joaquin Valley and to fix the Friant-Kern Canal’s capacity limitations even more critical and underscores the need for resolving the valley’s long-term water imbalance.”

The California Department of Water Resources reports that as of Feb. 21, statewide snow water content in the Sierra Nevada was 54% of the Apr. 1 average. Current Northern Sierra precipitation is 52% of the seasonal average to date.

Shasta Reservoir’s 4.5 million acre-feet capacity represents the majority of CVP water storage. Water from Shasta Reservoir is used for many purposes, including contractor supply for north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, as well as maintaining temperatures downstream of the dam throughout the summer and fall for threatened and endangered fish species to the extent practicable. Currently, reservoir storage is below the historic average for this time of the year and runoff forecasts predict that overall storage might be limited if typical spring precipitation does not materialize.

As the water year progresses, changes in hydrology and opportunities to deliver additional water will influence future allocations. Water supply updates will be made as appropriate and posted at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvp-water/index.html.

 

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