Buruau of Reclamation makes initial CVP water allocations

Shasta Dam

An improved snowpack in the Sierra Nevada prompted the Bureau of Reclamation to make initial water allocations of 70 percent for ag water contractors north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — photo courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The Bureau of Reclamation announced initial water allocations for Central Valley Project water contractors. As the season progresses, the bureau may change the amount of water delivered.

The initial allocation as based on conservative estimates of the amount of water in Sierra Nevada snowpack, current Central Valley reservoir storage and anticipated precipitation, according to a bureau news release.

As of Feb. 15, the California Department of Water Resources reports a statewide average snow-water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada snowpack of 141 percent of historical average. In the northern Central Valley, precipitation is about 121 percent of historical average.

The bureau made these initial allocations:

▪ North-of-Delta Contractors (Including American River and In-Delta Contractors): Agricultural water service contractors north of Delta are allocated 70 percent of their contract supply. Pursuant to the bureau’s municipal and industrial water shortage guidelines, M&I water service contractors North-of-Delta (including American River and In-Delta Contractors) are allocated 95 percent of their historic use.

▪ Eastside water service contractors (Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District) will receive 100 percent of their contract total.

South-of-Delta Contractors: Agricultural water service contractors south of Delta are allocated 35 percent of their contract supply. M&I water service contractors south of Delta are allocated the greater of 75 percent of their historic use or public health and safety needs.

▪Friant Division Contractors’ water supply develops in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin Watershed and is delivered from Millerton Lake through Friant Dam to the Madera Canal and Friant-Kern Canal.

The first 800,000 acre-feet of available water supply is considered Class 1; and Class 2 is considered the next amount of available water supply up to 1.4 million acre-feet.

Given the current hydrologic conditions, the bureau determined that 150,000 acre-feet needs to be released from Millerton Lake in March to avoid making flood releases later in the spring. As such, the initial Friant Division water supply allocation is being based on “uncontrolled season” conditions.

During this uncontrolled season period, the Class 1 allocation is 100 percent. Any portions of the uncontrolled season supply not picked up by Class 1 contractors are accordingly made available to contractors with Class 2 contracts.

▪For the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, Reclamation is currently forecasting a “Normal-Wet” water year type, providing for about 322,000 acre-feet to be used for Restoration Program purposes.

▪On Feb. 15, the bureau notified the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors, San Joaquin Settlement Contractors and Refuge Contractors that forecasted inflow to Shasta Lake is currently greater than the amount that would cause a “Shasta Critical” year as defined in their contracts. Therefore, they’ll receive full deliveries.