California State Water Project increases water deliveries to 5%

04/21/2014 08:08:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

click image to zoomSan Luis ReservoirVicky BoydSan Luis Reservoir, a major storage facility for California farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, stands at about 46 percent of historical capacity.The California State Water Project has boosted water deliveries to farmers to 5 percent from earlier allocations of zero.

The increased deliveries are the result of spring snowstorms and rain storms that increased reservoir storage slightly, according to a news release.

The precipitation also eliminates the need for rock barriers to be constructed in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to present saltwater intrusion.

The April 1 survey shows moisture content in the Sierra snowpack at only 32 percent of historical average.

Reservoir storage also remains far below average. Lake Oroville in Northern California, the water project's principle reservoir, stands at 52 percent of capacity.

Shasta Lake near Redding, the federal Central Valley Project's largest reservoir, is only 53 percent of capacity and San Luis Reservoir, a joint state-federal facility, is at 46 percent of capacity.

The State Water Project supplies water to 29 water contractors serving more than 25 million residents and nearly 1 million acres of irrigated farmland.

The water contractors had requested more than 4 million acre-feet this year.

An acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons, can meet the annual water needs of a family of four.

The last previous zero allocation for agriculture was in 1991, but urban users back then received 30 percent of requested amounts.

Since then, allocations are not made separately for urban and agricultural users.

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