California Water Supply Starts Year Below Average

Storage in the six California reservoirs that hold federal Central Valley Project (CVP) water is less than half of its 11.8 million acre-foot capacity to start the new water year.

The federal water year, which runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, will begin the season with carry-over storage just 82 percent of the 15-year average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates and manages the federal facilities, most of them in northern California.

This year’s carryover is short of the 6.0 million acre-foot average over the past 15 years. It is 2 million acre feet more than the system held in storage last year at this time.

Water storage in the state’s federal system ranges from a high of 2.8 million acre feet at Shasta Lake (62 percent of capacity and 117 percent of the 15-year average) to a low of 71,000 acre feet for the federal portion of San Luis Reservoir storage.

For San Luis, that represents just 7 percent of the reservoir’s federal capacity, or 28 percent of the 15-year average.

San Luis Reservoir can store just over 2.0 million acre feet of storage. Almost half of that storage can be federal CVP water and the other half state-owned water.

The CVP is the state’s single-largest source of irrigation water, typically supplying water to about three million acres of farmland in the state.

This has not been the case over the past several years as farmers south of the San Joaquin River Delta received no federal water in 2014 and 2015. Earlier this year these same farmers were promised just 5 percent of their contracted water supplies for 2016 while those north of the Delta were granted a full allotment of water.

Source: Todd Fitchette, Western Farm Press

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