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

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United States Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) provided an update to the initial Central Valley Project 2024 water supply allocation announced in February. Since making initial allocations last month, snowpack conditions have improved to now average conditions, Shasta and San Luis Reservoirs have experienced increases in reservoir storage levels, but San Joaquin River flows are below normal and CVP export operations have been limited by Endangered Species Act requirements.

“Given the increases in reservoir storage and snowpack measurements from the storms over the last month, many were expecting to see a more significant increase in water allocations for Authority member agencies that are more reflective of current water conditions in California,” said Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “California continues to experience rapid hydrologic changes, with a number of atmospheric rivers delivering much needed rainfall and snowpack over the last month that were not reflected in the initial allocation announcement in February and are not fully captured in this March update.”

“Additionally, operations of the Central Valley Project are currently being impacted by constraints imposed for the protection of steelhead, with an unknown, but limited population level benefit resulting those constraints, but with significant impacts on capturing the benefits of the current outflow from precipitation during the month of March. Furthermore, we anticipate additional constraints to CVP operations in the months of April through June, which are creating high levels of uncertainty that have resulted in lower allocations than expected.”

Simply put, we must do better – 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.”

Today’s announcement increases the allocations for Authority member agencies announced last month. Reclamation announced the following changes to Authority member agency allocations:

  • Irrigation water service and repayment contractors have increased to 35 percent from 15 percent of their contract totals.
  • Municipal and Industrial (M&I) service and repayment contractors have increased to 75 percent from 65 percent of their historical use.

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.