Droughtwatch 2014: Deliveries To California Department of Water Resources Customers Cease

The California Department of Water Resources announced today that there will be no water deliveries to customers in the wake of a statewide drought.

Customers of the State Water Project will get no deliveries in 2014 if the current dry conditions continue, according to department officials.

Deliveries to agricultural districts may be cut by 50 percent.

According to department officials, the water project has never before agreed to zero allocation for all of the 29 public water agencies that buy from it.

Carryover water stored by local agencies and bought by water agencies will still be delivered, officials said.

Department of Water Resources director Mark Cowin said in a statement today, “Simply put, there’s not enough water in the system right now for customers to expect any water this season from the project.”

The zero percent allocation of freshwater from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was made to preserve stored water that may be needed later in the year for health and safety needs, officials said.

The State Water Project supplies water to 25 million Californians and 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland. The water is transported to urban and agricultural communities in Northern California, the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and Southern California.

This year is looking to be the driest year in state history with reservoir storage at its lowest since 1977.

The snowpack is only at 12 percent of average for this time of year.

To get back to average rain and snowfall levels it would need to rain and snow heavily every other day from now until May, according to department officials.

Earlier this month Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency as water shortages loomed. Today he commented on the Department of Water Resources decision.

“Today’s action is a stark reminder that California’s drought is real. We’re taking every possible step to prepare the state for the continuing dry conditions we face,” he said.

The California Farm Bureau Federation, which represents nearly 78,000 family farmers and ranchers, responded to the zero allocation decision, calling it a “terrible blow” that was not unexpected.

In a statement today, federation president Paul Wenger said there will be “severe economic problems in our rural regions—loss of jobs and economic activity…” as drought conditions persist.

The governor said there have been 125 additional Cal Fire firefighters hired to help with increased fire threat and the state Department of Public Health is offering assistance to water districts at risk of drinking water shortages.

The cities of Cloverdale and Healdsburg in Sonoma County and the Lompico Water Department in Santa Cruz County are on a list of vulnerable rural drinking water systems, according to the state Department of Public Health.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is asking for customers of the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System to voluntarily cut water consumption by 10 percent.

Gov. Brown has asked residents for a 20 percent reduction in water use, but according to San Francisco water officials, their customers are already reducing consumption at higher rates.

The water department said residents use 49 gallons per day on average, one of the lowest daily consumption rates in the state.
The water system serves 2.6 million residents and businesses in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is expected to issue an executive order for city departments to cut back on municipal water use in the next two weeks, according to the SFPUC.

The water department is offering customers free water-saving devices. Showerheads and other supplies are available. More information can be found at http://www.sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=140.

Other water conservation tips include taking shorter showers, only running the dishwasher with a full load and purchasing water-efficient appliances.

The National Weather Service provided data on some Bay Area cities that recorded the driest January in decades.
In downtown San Francisco there were .06 inches of rainfall.

Previously, the record was in 1920 with .26 inches of precipitation.In Oakland, a record set in 1976 with .31 inches was beat this month with only .04 inches.

A site in San Jose recorded only .12 inches this month. A 1920’s record there still stands at .10 inches.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!