Zero Water Dec 23

Zero Water Dec 23

Mike Stephens
Mike Stephens
News Reporter
For California Ag Today, I’m Mike Stephens

Water agencies that serve 27 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland won’t get any of the water they’ve requested from the state heading into 2022 other than what’s needed for critical health and safety, state officials announced.

It’s the earliest date the Department of Water Resources has issued a 0% water allocation, a milestone that reflects the dire conditions as drought continues to grip the nation’s most populous state and reservoirs sit at historically low levels. State water officials said mandatory water restrictions could be coming and major water districts urged consumers to conserve.

The state will provide a small amount of water for health and safety needs to some of the districts that asked for it. But they won’t get water for any other purpose, such as irrigation, landscaping and gardening.

The State Water Project is a complex system of reservoirs, canals and dams that works alongside the federal Central Valley Project to supply water up and down the state of nearly 40 million people. Lake Oroville, its largest reservoir, is only 30% full, about half of what it normally is this time of year.

Districts that rely on the state have a maximum amount they can request each year and the allocation represents how much the state can give based on available supplies.

The percentage may be adjusted in early winter and spring depending on how much snow and rainfall the state receives. Last year, the state’s second-driest on record, districts’ allocation went from 10% in December down to 5% by March.

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