With record rainfall in the Northern Sierra and the snowpack still building, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today increased its estimate of this year’s State Water Project (SWP) supply to 100 percent for contractors north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and 85 percent of requests for other contractors.One thought that I had after yesterday's interview, and one I had planned to pose to state officials, was, "Why not just use some of the flood control releases to increase the allocation?" Apparently Croyle and other officials had the same thought.
“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to increase deliveries even more as we monitor conditions,” said DWR Acting Director William Croyle.
Today’s allocation is the highest since 100 percent in 2006.
DWR initially estimated it would only be able to deliver 20 percent of the 4.1 million acre-feet of SWP water requested this year. That projection (allocation) was increased to 45 percent on December 21 and to 60 percent on January 18 as storms developed.
In step with today’s allocation increase, DWR announced that repairs have been completed to the intake structure at Clifton Court Forebay, a reservoir feeding the Delta pumps that deliver State Water Project water to most of California. Erosion damage was discovered last month on the concrete apron that supports the reservoir’s intake gates. Clifton Court Forebay and Delta pumping operations will return to normal on Sunday.
Emergency work is underway to repair spillways at the keystone SWP reservoir, Lake Oroville. Lake levels this spring and summer have not been determined yet and will depend on public safety, the weather, and the pace at which the Sierra Nevada snowpack melts, among other factors. But the above-average size of that snowpack will allow DWR to deliver at least 85 percent of SWP contract requests and perhaps adjust the allocation higher later this spring.
The 29 public agencies contracting to receive SWP water serve more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated agricultural land.
At any rate, as we and other news organizations have discovered, the realities on the ground in Oroville can change from day to day. For more on this decision and for the latest developments, keep watch at CapitalPress.com.