Water & Drought

State ups its water allocation for Southern California

There’s so little water in Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet that the boat ramp has been closed indefinitely. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California relies on imported water from Northern California to fill the reservoir.
There’s so little water in Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet that the boat ramp has been closed indefinitely. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California relies on imported water from Northern California to fill the reservoir. rsabalow@sacbee.com

In another sign that the so-called “Miracle March” storms in Northern California helped ease the state’s drought, farms and cities reliant on the State Water Project learned Thursday that they’ll likely get 60 percent of the water deliveries they requested from the state, an increase from a month ago.

As water rushed into northern reservoirs last month, state officials said contractors would receive 45 percent of what they requested for 2016 from the state-run delivery network that includes the California Aqueduct. They upped that estimate Thursday to reflect the continued strength of reservoir storage. Lake Oroville, the principal reservoir in the State Water Project, is filled to 94 percent capacity.

The projected allocation marks an improvement over last year, when the State Water Project delivered 20 percent of contractors’ allocations. The 2016 projection would mark the highest allocation since 2012, when water providers got 65 percent of their contract amounts.

The project hasn’t delivered 100 percent in 10 years.

The SWP pumps billions of gallons of water to farms and cities in California, mostly in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The project’s largest customer is the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves about 19 million urban residents.

The federal government’s Central Valley Project, which includes Shasta and Folsom dams, said recently that most farmers in the Sacramento Valley would receive 100 percent of their allocations, while many farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would receive between 5 and 40 percent.

Ryan Sabalow: 916-321-1264, @ryansabalow

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