Water & Drought

Despite Oroville problems, state water allocations rise

New look at Oroville Dam spillway after reopening

New video shows water coming down Oroville Dam's main spillway on March 21, 2017. The dam’s main spillway fractured Feb. 7, 2017, prompting a temporary shutdown of the structure as a big storm rolled in. On Wednesday, more than a month after a nea
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New video shows water coming down Oroville Dam's main spillway on March 21, 2017. The dam’s main spillway fractured Feb. 7, 2017, prompting a temporary shutdown of the structure as a big storm rolled in. On Wednesday, more than a month after a nea

Allocations from the State Water Project jumped significantly Friday despite enduring problems at the project’s largest reservoir.

The Department of Water Resources announced that contractors north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will receive full allocations this year. Those south of the Delta, including the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, will get 85 percent of what they’ve requested.

Until Friday, the allotments had been frozen at 60 percent since January in spite of record precipitation in Northern California. The holdup was the fractured spillway at Oroville Dam, which sparked a mass evacuation in February and could prompt reservoir officials from DWR to operate Lake Oroville more conservatively this spring and summer. That would leave less water for contractors than normally expected given the amount of rain the region has received.

Even so, DWR said the Sierra Nevada snowpack is so massive that the department can project 85 percent allocations to those south-of-Delta contractors despite the problems at Oroville.

“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to increase deliveries even more as we monitor conditions,” said Acting Director Bill Croyle in a prepared statement.

DWR also announced that repairs have been completed at Clifton Court Forebay, a small reservoir in the Delta that serves the giant pumping station at Tracy that delivers State Water Project water to contracts in the south. Damage to the reservoir’s intake structure forced the shutdown of the pumping station in mid-March.

Pumping operations will resume Sunday, DWR said.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

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