Statement by Federico Barajas regarding the June Water Allocation Update by the Bureau of Reclamation

The United States Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) updated the Central Valley Project 2024 water supply allocation today. Since the last allocation update in April, water conditions in California have improved, and export restrictions associated with the implementation of the Endangered Species Act and the 2024 Interim Operations Plan have lessened.

“I’d like to thank the Bureau of Reclamation for this updated water allocation and the leadership of the Congressional Representatives who supported it. This increase in surface water supplies will significantly benefit the communities and farms that rely on these supplies to implement California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act successfully”, said Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

“This year is a perfect example of the disconnect between available rainfall and snowpack and the ability to operate the Central Valley Project in a way that takes advantage of the water provided by nature in any given year. For critical periods this year, exports were reduced due to inflexible operational criteria that failed to fully account for conditions for steelhead and salmonid species, resulting in reduced surface water supply for Water Authority members. These reduced surface water deliveries result in one or both of two outcomes – reduced economic productivity or more groundwater extraction – both of which make limited sense when hydrology indicates that additional surface water deliveries should be possible.

“This year taught us a lesson – that we must strike a better balance in scientifically supported decision-making to adaptively manage California’s water system, which supports drinking water for more than 30 million people, the world’s 5th largest economy, and one of Earth’s most fertile and productive food producing regions. Now is the time to improve project operations, and we are committed to successfully developing flexible project operation criteria that protect species and do not unnecessarily restrict surface water supplies.”

Today’s announcement follows a bipartisan letter sent to Reclamation by eight Congressional Representatives and increases the allocations for Authority member agencies, which were last updated in April. Reclamation announced the following changes to Authority member agency allocations:

  • Irrigation water service and repayment contractors have increased to 50 percent from 40 percent of their contract totals.

As the water year progresses, changes in hydrology, actions that impact operations, and opportunities to deliver additional water will influence future allocations. Water supply updates will be posted on Reclamation California-Great Basin Region’s website.