The Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project began water year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015) with 3.1 million acre-feet of water in six key CVP reservoirs (Shasta, Trinity, Folsom, New Melones, and Millerton reservoirs and the federal share of the joint federal/state San Luis Reservoir). This is less than half of the 15-year average annual carryover of 6.4 million acre-feet and about 2 million acre-feet less than the amount with which the region started WY 2014.
“Last year was a difficult one, and we are starting this year with even less water in our reservoirs,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo. “We are working closely now with our stakeholders and partner agencies to determine all possible strategies to help us manage our limited water supplies. It continues to be critical that we use every acre-foot of water wisely and efficiently as the Mid-Pacific Region enters what is potentially a fourth year of a severe drought.”
To address the prospect that dry conditions will persist into WY 2015, the Mid-Pacific Region has begun holding meetings with CVP water contractors, power customers, tribes, non-governmental organizations, other federal agencies, and state of California agencies to facilitate open communication on the status of WY 2014 and brainstorm additional water management strategies, suggestions and ideas for consideration going into 2015.
“Cooperative and collaborative relationships have been critical to managing our scarce supplies through the drought of 2014 and will continue to be indispensable as we face a potentially dry 2015,” Murillo said.
Following several stakeholder meetings in 2013, Reclamation developed the CVP Water Plan 2014, which contains actions and strategies for managing water in drought conditions. The plan may be viewed at www.usbr.gov/mp/Water_Supply_Meetings/index.html. Reclamation will develop the CVP Water Plan 2015 after gathering information, suggestions and ideas during meetings being held in 2014. In addition, Reclamation and the State of California are working with agencies to develop a 2015 Drought Operations Plan to cooperatively address critical drought-related issues throughout the 2015 water year.
The CVP typically provides irrigation water critical to about 3 million acres of agricultural land in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys and along California’s central coast, but that quantity was significantly reduced in WY 2014. The CVP also provides urban water for millions of people and industrial water essential to the San Francisco Bay Area’s economy. Water from the CVP is also crucial for the environment, wildlife and fishery restoration, and hydroelectric power production.
During WY 2014, CVP powerplants generated about 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours. Project use consumed about 25 percent of this energy; the remaining energy was made available for marketing. The Mid-Pacific Region’s hydroelectric generators have a combined capacity of approximately 2.1 million kilowatts.
In late January Reclamation will announce preliminary WY 2015 CVP water supply conditions and in late February will announce the initial CVP water supply to be made available under contracts (prior to the start of the contract year, which begins on March 1). Reclamation will continually monitor and evaluate hydrologic conditions and will adjust the initial water supply allocations, as warranted, to reflect updated snowpack and runoff. Current allocations and background information are available at www.usbr.gov/mp/pa/water.