The California Department of Water Resources announced today that there will be no water deliveries to customers in the wake of a statewide drought.
Customers of the State Water Project will get no deliveries in 2014 if the current dry conditions continue, according to department officials.
Deliveries to agricultural districts may be cut by 50 percent. According to department officials, the water project has never before agreed to zero allocation for all of the 29 public water agencies that buy from it.
Carryover water stored by local agencies and bought by water agencies will still be delivered, officials said.
Department of Water Resources director Mark Cowin said in a statement today, “Simply put, there’s not enough water in the system right now for customers to expect any water this season from the project.”
The zero percent allocation of freshwater from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was made to preserve stored water that may be needed later in the year for health and safety needs, officials said.
The State Water Project supplies water to 25 million Californians and 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland. The water is transported to urban and agricultural communities in Northern California, the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and Southern California.
This year is looking to be the driest year in state history with reservoir storage at its lowest since 1977.
The snowpack is only at 12 percent of average for this time of year.
To get back to average rain and snowfall levels it would need to rain and snow heavily every other day from now until May, according to department officials.
Earlier this month Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency as water shortages loomed. Today he commented on the Department of Water Resources decision.
“Today’s action is a stark reminder that California’s drought is real. We’re taking every possible step to prepare the state for the continuing dry conditions we face,” he said.
The California Farm Bureau Federation, which represents nearly 78,000 family farmers and ranchers, responded to the zero allocation decision, calling it a “terrible blow” that was not unexpected.
In a statement today, federation president Paul Wenger said there will be “severe economic problems in our rural regions — loss of jobs and economic activity…” as drought conditions persist.
The governor said there have been 125 additional Cal Fire firefighters hired to help with increased fire threat and the state Department of Public Health is offering assistance to water districts at risk of drinking water shortages.