STATEMENT: Despite the abundance of water, shortages continue
Today, the United States Bureau of Reclamation updated the allocations for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural water service contractors and for south-of-Delta CVP municipal and industrial water service contractors. The new allocations, 40% and 75%, respectively, are significantly less than reasonably could be made by Reclamation, and given current hydrological conditions, are inexplicable. The last hydrologic year, 2017, was the wettest year on record in the Sacramento River watershed, and presently, all CVP reservoirs are above their historic average (Shasta 111%, Folsom 113%, Trinity 105%, New Melones 135%, and San Luis 121%) for this date.
With the abundance of water, the 40% and 75% allocations reveal that regulations, not the availability of water, are creating supply shortages and impediments to the efficient operation of the CVP. “If the system cannot provide an adequate amount of water when water levels are above average, then clearly changes need to be made to the regulations governing the CVP,” said Jon Rubin, Interim Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.
The allocations this year are particularly harmful to communities served by CVP water because they depend on higher allocations in years of water abundance to offset lower allocations in dry years. “The state’s groundwater aquifers need to be replenished when supplies are available but that cannot happen if water deliveries are limited when surface water is available to deliver to farmers,” said Rubin.
Rubin called on Reclamation and other federal agencies to reevaluate their decision-making process given the fact that the restrictive operations of the CVP have been counterproductive for all uses of water, including for environmental purposes. The federal government continues to report a decline in fish populations. Communities served by the CVP have received progressively lower allocations which has impacted groundwater and water quality. And, farmers have been forced to fallow land and cut food production due to the uncertainty around water deliveries.