Today, the United States Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) announced the initial 2023 Central Valley Project water supply allocation. In response, Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (“Authority”), released the following statement:
“After two years of receiving no water from contracted water supplies, we are relieved to see Reclamation make an initial allocation of 35% for Authority irrigation water service and repayment member agencies. We are hopeful that California will continue to receive additional rainfall and snow during the coming months and that the initial allocation will be increased as the year moves forward.
“However, it is important to note that the last decade – in which Authority members received water allocations below 20% seven times, including four years with no allocation, and 75% or above only twice – continues to reinforce that California’s water system is no longer able to provide the reliability necessary to support the demands placed on it. Rainfall and snowpack patterns are changing and our water management strategies must be responsive to this new reality. December and January storms, which delivered much needed relief from dry conditions and restored reservoir levels, also provided more water than our system can convey and store in such a short-time period, resulting in over 4 million acre-feet of outflow than is necessary to maintain Delta water quality and support ecosystem function.
“In an era of increasing climate whiplash, we must advance long-term and sustainable solutions – we must invest in the maintenance, improvement and restoration of our critical infrastructure that serves as the backbone of California, we must increase our ability to store water during the limited, but more extreme hydrologic events like those in January 2023, and we must improve the operational flexibility of our system so that we can adapt to the challenges presented by each water year.
“The time to invest is now – we cannot allow this moment to pass without meaningful action to build water resilience for the communities and ecosystems served by the Authority’s member agencies.”
Today’s announcement marks the first allocation to Authority irrigation water service and repayment member agencies in three years, after two years where these contractors received a 0% water allocation. Water supply updates are posted on Reclamation California-Great Basin Region’s website.
The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority was established in January of 1992 and consists of 27 member agencies within the western San Joaquin, San Benito, and Santa Clara Valleys, that provide water service to approximately 1,200,000 acres of irrigated agriculture, 2.5 million people, including many living in economically disadvantaged communities, and 130,000 acres of managed wetlands of importance to the Pacific Flyway.