Low Water Allocations Point to Severe Challenges in 2009

Press release from ACWA (see link in right column of this site)

Sacramento: February 20, 2009 – Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Executive Director Timothy Quinn issued the following statement today on the 2009 water supply allocations announced by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources. The Bureau announced that some agricultural contractors stand to receive no water deliveries this year, while municipal contractors can count on receiving a 50% supply. DWR said urban and agricultural customers of the State Water Project stand to receive just 15% of requested supplies, among the lowest forecasts ever. The allocations may be updated based on conditions in the coming weeks.

“As expected, the outlook for water deliveries is grim and will put local water agencies in critical territory this year. As water agencies continue to deplete their reserves, more and more Californians will face tighter restrictions on water use, including mandatory conservation, rationing and higher costs for water. We’re in a new era, and Californians are going to have to rethink the way they use water, not just during this drought but from this day forward.

“Extremely low reservoirs make it clear we are in a drought, but there is more at work than back-to-back dry years. We have a water supply system that simply cannot support everything we are trying to do today, whether it’s protecting species, adapting to climate change or meeting the needs of a growing population. Layering on a three-year drought just magnifies the problem.

“It becomes more urgent every day that we move immediately to implement a long-term solution that works for the environment and the economy. If we had already made the investments in infrastructure recommended by Delta Vision, we would be having a very different conversation today. We could have significantly more water in storage south of the Delta, a more resilient system to deal with current drought conditions, and a much better outlook for the environment and our ability to reduce or avoid the dire economic consequences that California will experience in 2009.”