Agriculture contractors in the Central Valley Project will receive zero percent of contract supply for the upcoming year according to the Feb. 21 announcement of the initial 2014 water supply allocation by the U.S. Dept. of Interior Bureau of Reclamation. In addition, municipal and industrial contractors and federal refuges will also see a dramatic reduction in water allocation.
The Calif. Department of Water Resources reports that snowpack and precipitation in the Sierra Nevada are historically low and the snow-water content statewide stands at 29 percent of average for this time of year. The February Runoff Forecast by the Calif. Department of Water Resources indicates a critical water year for both the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.
“This low allocation is yet another indicator of the impacts the severe drought is having on California communities, agriculture, businesses, power, and the environment,” said Michael L. Connor, Reclamation Commissioner. “We will monitor the hydrology as the water year progresses and continue to look for opportunities to exercise operational flexibility in future allocations. Reclamation is working with our federal partners through the National Drought Resilience Partnership, and we are continuing our efforts with the state to find a long-term, comprehensive solution to achieve the dual goals of a reliable water supply for California and a healthy Bay Delta ecosystem that supports the state’s economy.”
California's Central Valley stretches some 450 miles from Shasta County to Kern County with one-sixth of the populations and more than two-fifths of land area of the state. Throughout the Central Valley, agriculture is widespread but diverse in the type of crop produced with larger farming operation in the area relying heavily on irrigation. A zero allocation, while not shocking news for agriculture producers, will mean large tracts of land will probably go unplanted.
Reclamation began Water Year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014) with 5.1 million acre-feet of carryover storage in six key CVP reservoirs, which was 43 percent of capacity and 75 percent of the 15-year average for October 1. Since that time, however, the state has continued to experience record dry conditions. On January 17, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed a Drought State of Emergency.
Reclamation determines the allocation of CVP water for agricultural, environmental, and municipal and industrial purposes based upon many factors. Reclamation underscores that the following initial allocation, based on a conservative runoff forecast, is driven by critically dry hydrologic conditions, water quality requirements, flow objectives, relative priority of water rights, and endangered species protection measures.