Statement by Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority on the Initial Allocation Announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation

Sacramento, CA –  Today the Bureau of Reclamation announced the initial allocation for 2020-2021. The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (Authority) understands that dry hydrology is a main driver in the low initial allocations for agricultural and urban water users south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Authority wishes that the initial allocation were higher, but understands that existing conditions have prohibited Reclamation from making a higher initial allocation.

The return of a high pressure ridge off of California’s coastline and the associated lack of rain and snowfall continues to reinforce that the next drought is right around the corner. Adaptive management and increased water storage and conveyance are critical to addressing this new reality, which is why we are committed to working with Reclamation to successfully implement the new biological opinions and increase the operational flexibility of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project while simultaneously protecting threatened and endangered fish populations.

It’s important to note that if the new biological opinions had been in effect in 2019, it is estimated that the projects would have been able to conserve over an additional one million acre-feet of water. Given the dry hydrology facing California today, that additional water would be highly beneficial.

This year’s low initial allocation further reinforces the need to increase investments in water infrastructure, including additional water storage and increased conveyance capacity, to improve near term and longer-term water supplies.

Authority staff will continue to work with Reclamation and its member agencies to analyze hydrologic conditions in hopes the allocation can be increased as early as practicable.