State officials have announced that the state plans to boost deliveries to 29 public water agencies serving 27 million Californians this year.
“Thanks to the water captured and stored from recent storms, the state is increasing deliveries to local agencies that support two-thirds of Californians – good news for communities and farms in the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “We’ll keep pushing to modernize our water infrastructure to take advantage of these winter storms and prepare communities for the climate-driven extremes of wet and dry ahead.”
Following atmospheric rivers and extreme weather that helped fill reservoirs and dramatically increase the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the Department of Water Resources now expects to deliver 30 percent of requested water supplies – or 1.27 million acre-feet – in 2023, up from the initial 5 percent announced on Dec. 1.
The State Water Project’s two largest reservoirs (Oroville and San Luis) have gained a combined 1.62 million acre-feet of water in storage – roughly enough to provide water to 5.6 million households for a year.
With an above-average snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the state is cautiously optimistic that by early summer, there will be enough water stored in the state’s reservoirs and aquifers to help relieve the worst effects of drought. While recent storms have been impressive, two months remain in the wet season and California could see a return to warm and dry conditions. Difficult conditions still exist in the Colorado River watershed, and many Californians rely on groundwater wells, which take much longer to recover from drought.
Department of Water Resources will conduct an additional snow survey in February along with subsequent surveys on March 1, April 1, and May 1 and may further update the allocation as the water supply outlook becomes clearer with the new data.
California traditionally receives half its rain and snow by the end of January. Water managers will reassess conditions monthly throughout the winter and spring. Starting in February, the assessments will incorporate snowpack data and runoff forecasts.