Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 8:59 pm | Fair 59º


Local News

California Agency Increases Statewide Water Allocations

More rain and loosened federal restrictions on delta pumping mean a bigger supply for customers

The California Department of Water Resources updated its State Water Table A allocation number this week.

After continued federal pressure to reduce pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — the heart of the state water system — in order to reduce the effects on endangered delta smelt, and after entering what was shaping up to be a fourth year of drought, state officials were able to promise recipients only 5 percent of their annual allocation.

Federal restrictions on pumping from the delta have since been eased slightly, and higher-than-normal amounts of rain and snowfall have increased the state’s water coffers, allowing the department to increase the allocation to 15 percent of the full amount.

Statewide, Table A allocations total 4.17 million acre-feet annually, but years of drought and fairly recent environmental mitigation linked to the project’s impact upon the state’s salmon fishery — 70 percent of which is centered on the delta — have forced water administrators to consistently cut the amount of water actually delivered.

Even with this week’s allocation percentage increase, the statewide total is 625,798 acre-feet.

The allocation may again change, said William Brennan, executive director of the Central Coast Water Authority, the agency that administers state water for Santa Barbara County.

Having a full Table A allotment of about 12,000 acre-feet, Santa Barbara County, with the latest increase, would have access to 1,800 acre-feet, up from 600 acre-feet earlier this year.

“One way of looking at this is that we tripled our water supply,” Brennan said. “DWR is just now completing its latest snow survey. Once they plug in the numbers, we believe we will see another allocation increase.”

Brennan said the DWR’s next report is expected to be complete by the week of March 15.

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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