Challenges to Water Supply Remain Despite Improved Snowpack Survey Results

Short Title
Challenges to Water Supply Remain Despite Improved Snowpack Survey Results
Pumping restrictions still limit available water supply from Northern California
January 29, 2010

Despite today’s report by the California Department of Water Resources that snowpack water content is 115 percent of normal statewide, significant long-term challenges still remain to improving reliability of the region’s water supplies from the Bay-Delta, a San Diego County Water Authority official said.  Moreover, the level of precipitation over the second half of the winter will have a major impact on determining final supply deliveries for the remainder of 2010.

“Although we welcome the news that the water content in the snowpack at this point of the winter is above average, regulatory restrictions are expected to continue to reduce water deliveries to Southern California for the foreseeable future,” said Claude A. Bud Lewis, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors.

“These restrictions, coupled with prolonged drought, have caused both our state and local reservoir levels to drop well below normal and limit the ability of water agencies to refill them,” Lewis said. “Further, these restrictions could remain in effect for years, perpetuating our water supply shortages.”

Pumping restrictions to protect endangered fish species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta region have cut water deliveries from the State Water Project by as much as 30 percent, limiting the amount of water that can be stored during wet years.  Over the past six year period, Bay-Delta supplies account for 34 percent of San Diego County’s annual imported water supplies, on average.

The Water Authority, in response to ongoing water supply challenges, is reducing deliveries by 8 percent to local water agencies through June 30, 2010. The region remains in a Level 2 “Drought Alert” condition. This enables the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies to use mandatory water use restrictions or other measures to curb demand.

These actions were taken in response to a 13-percent cut in water deliveries to the San Diego region by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Water Authority’s largest supplier. The cut, effective July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010, was ordered by MWD in April 2009 in response to supply shortages created by regulatory restrictions on water deliveries from the Bay-Delta in Northern California, drought, and falling water storage levels statewide. 

Water supplies secured as part of the Water Authority’s supply diversification strategy enabled the Water Authority to partially offset the cut from MWD.

To access the DWR snow survey news release, please visit: http://www.water.ca.gov/news/newsreleases/2010/01292010snowsurvey.pdf
 
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