The San Diego County Water Authority said the state Department of Water Resources' announcement Monday of a low initial allocation of water deliveries to the State Water Project (SWP) was expected due to continuing dry conditions this fall and serves as the latest reminder of the region's need to increase voluntary water conservation.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its initial allocation for water deliveries to SWP contractors in calendar year 2008 would be 25 percent, a significant reduction from the 60 percent initial allocation for calendar year 2007. This is the lowest initial allocation since 2003.
The lower initial allocation was expected because of current dry conditions in the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions, whose rivers convey runoff from the Sierra mountain range to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta and the State Water Project pumps, and because of lower-than-average storage levels in major reservoirs in Northern California. The initial allocation also takes into account the projected impacts from the federal court decision in August 2007 aimed at protecting Delta smelt. That court decision will restrict State Water Project pumping starting December 25, 2007 and through 2008.
"Usually, DWR begins with a conservative allocation, so it is too early to tell what the final amount of water deliveries from the State Water Project to our region will be," said Fern Steiner, chair of the Water Authority's Board of Directors. "As the water year progresses, that allocation can increase based on winter storm conditions. DWR typically determines its final water delivery allocation to the SWP by May 1. If we have another dry year we most likely would not see a significant increase, which reinforces the need for our region to meet our target of reducing our water use by 20 gallons per person, per day."
About 40 percent of all water used in San Diego County comes from the State Water Project. SWP water is distributed among 29 long-term contractors that serve more than 25 million Californians. The Water Authority gets its SWP water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the SWP's largest contractor.
SWP contractors had requested 4,145,124 acre-feet of water for 2008. DWR's initial allocation for 25 percent of the water contractors' total request equals 1,038,861 acre-feet. An acre-foot is 325,900 gallons, the approximate amount of water two families of four use in one year.
Steiner said the Water Authority will continue to monitor weather and water supply conditions and developments from the federal court decision that may affect SWP water deliveries. If necessary, she said, the Authority will implement additional steps in its Drought Management Plan. The plan can be viewed at www.sdcwa.org/manage/pdf/DroughtManagementPlanFinal.pdf
More information on the region's 20-Gallon Challenge campaign for voluntary water conservation, including many simple tips for saving water indoors and outdoors, is available at www.20gallonchallenge.com.
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