Feds dramatically cut water deliveries to California cities and farms

In a sweeping move signaling California’s looming drought crisis, federal water managers announced Wednesday that they are again cutting water allocations to farms and cities.

The US Bureau of Reclamation, which supplies water to California through the Central Valley project, said it plans to more than halve its delivery to the urban areas it serves, allocating 25% of the amount contract instead of the 55% announced. earlier.

Water districts in the San Francisco Bay Area that have contracts with the Central Valley project and are affected by the cut are the Contra Costa Water District, the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

The District of Santa Clara County told the San Jose Mercury News that the reduced allocation will result in mandatory water restrictions throughout Santa Clara County. The district asked its South Bay customers in May for a voluntary 25% reduction in their water consumption; in June, the board will vote on which mandatory rules to impose, the Mercury News reported.

The federal government also announced that its water allocations to agricultural irrigation districts in the Central Valley will be reduced to zero. In February, the bureau allocated farmers 5% of their contract supply.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the last time drastic cuts like this were made was in the midst of the historic 2015 drought.

The Central Valley Project is a network of dams, reservoirs, canals and hydroelectric plants that stretches over 400 miles between Shasta Lake and Bakersfield. In a normal year, it provides drinking water to 2.5 million people a year and 5 million acre-feet of water to farmers.

This year has been anything but normal, with the last two winters marked by dry conditions. Reservoirs across the state are at half capacity, and the snowpack that feeds the Central Valley project in the spring and summer was 3% of normal on Wednesday, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

Bernard P. Love