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Fourth Year of Drought Brings Extreme Limits to Water Supply

As California is preparing for their fourth year of drought, the Bureau of Reclamation warns Central Valley Project water contractors of lessened water allocations. Two months after the start of the new water year on Oct. 1, the Shasta Reservoir, the state’s largest reservoir and cornerstone of the Central Valley Project (CVP), is currently at 31% capacity.

California’s Continued Drought

As California’s drought deepens, it is worth checking in on the status of water supplies and what might be in store for the rest of the summer, and beyond.

What started with the promise of a wet water year, ended up dry, again. In January, the 8-Station Index showed precipitation totals keeping pace with the wettest year on record. Then it got dry and accumulated totals flat-lined. The final result is a below average water year, although not one of the driest years on record.

Water Board Tables Delta Drought Regulation

The State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday withdrew an emergency drought regulation for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta.

Despite a dry January, board staff said the regulation, known as a temporary urgency change petition (TUCP), would not improve conditions if implemented as planned in February. They found no potential benefits to Shasta and Trinity reservoirs, which have the greatest need for water.

OPINION: A New Approach For Managing California’s Water And Improving The Environment

Water is at the center of California’s economic and environmental health. The need to maintain reliable water supply for California’s farms, families and cities while protecting the environment has been at the forefront of our minds as we have worked to review and finalize a new operations plan for the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.

Together, these projects provide water for 25 million Californians and millions of acres of some of the most productive farmland in the world.

The projects impact but also protect important commercial and recreational fisheries, wildlife refuges, and rare species.