(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)

By Valley Ag Voice Staff

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced initial 2024 water supply allocations for Central Valley Project contractors. Wet conditions throughout 2023 prompted a higher allotment for water users based on an estimate of available water, reflecting current reservoir storage, precipitation, and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

“The wet hydrologic conditions we experienced during the 2023 water year left most of our reservoirs in good shape as we progressed to the 2024 water year,” California-Great Basin Regional Director Karl Stock said in a press release. “Precipitation totals this water year started off slowly, evidenced by the fact we were well below average at the time of the Feb. 1 water supply forecast. Since that time, several storms have boosted the Sierra Nevada snowpack, bringing us to near normal conditions for Northern California.”

Stock noted that despite the water supply benefits, they are prepared for the possible re-emergence of drier conditions.

Reclamation is working to develop a south-of-Delta drought plan, reserving roughly 83,000 acre-feet of water in San Luis Reservoir for a drought reserve pool. According to the release it is not considered as the volume of water available to water supply allocations.

NORTH OF DELTA

Irrigation water service and repayment contractors north-of-Delta are allocated 75% of their contract total from the Sacramento River, whereas municipal and industrial water contractors will receive 100% of their contract.

According to Reclamation, the 2024 water year is determined as non-critical, and Sacramento River Settlement Contractors — a partnership of 145 agricultural and municipal senior water rights holders in the Sacramento Valley — will receive 100% of their contracted supply.

Municipal and industrial contractors serviced by Folsom Reservoir on the American River are allocated 100% of their contract.

IN DELTA

Municipal and industrial contractors serviced by the Delta are allocated 100% of their contract total.

SOUTH OF DELTA

Irrigation contractors will receive 15% of their contract total, and municipal and industrial contractors south-of-Delta are allocated 65%. San Joaquin River Settlement and San Joaquin Exchange Contractors’ water supply is based on senior water rights claims. As a non-critical year, senior water rights holders will be allocated 100% of their contract supply.

Central Valley Project contractors south-of-Delta have also been approved to reschedule roughly 184,000 acre-feet of unused allocated water from 2023 to use this year.

EASTSIDE

The Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District will receive 100% allotment.

FRIANT DIVISION

The Friant Division has two water contract types — Class 1 and Class 2 — and supply is delivered from Millerton Reservoir via the Madera and Friant-Kern canals. Class 1 contractors are typically cities or districts without access to groundwater, whereas Class 2 water is the remaining 1.4 million acre-feet of water from Millerton Lake under long-term contracts. Class 2 contractors use much of this for irrigation and groundwater recharge.

Class 1 contractors in the Friant Division will receive an early allocation of 60% from the first 800,000 acre-feet of available water supply. In a press release, Jason Phillips, CEO of the Friant Water Authority, expressed gratitude to Reclamation for the initial allocation announcement.

“On behalf of FWA and the entire Friant Division of the CVP, I’d like to thank the US Bureau of Reclamation for the early initial allocation announcement of 60% for Class 1 Contractors,” Phillips said. “Under the latest inflow forecasts, we anticipate the need for an increased allocation soon even under dry conditions to avoid spilling of Millerton supplies this spring. We look forward to frequent updates to the allocation and continued coordination from Reclamation as this water year progresses.”

WILDLIFE

Wildlife refuges north and south of the Delta will receive 100% of their contracts.

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