State and federal water managers brace for hot, dry summer conditions

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the US Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are bracing for hot, dry summer months as the state experiences a third straight year of severe drought.

California will enter the dry summer months with below average reservoir storage and with the state’s largest reservoir, Shasta Lake, at extremely low levels. The Sierra’s snowpack has all but disappeared, and runoff into streams and reservoirs across the state has largely peaked during the year.

“California’s overall water supply is always critical during the dry summer months,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “DWR and its federal partners in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will continue to take a conservative approach to water management decisions to maintain water storage, water quality, and water deliveries for million Californians. We must be prepared for a hotter and drier future brought about by climate change. »

DWR and Reclamation are closely coordinating water project operations and actions to address the low river flows and temperature challenges expected this summer.

Due to ongoing severe drought conditions, DWR finalized its decision earlier this year to provide 5% of the supplies requested by the State Water Project (SWP) in 2022. DWR will also provide water for all critical unmet health and safety needs of the 29 water agencies that agree to receive supplies from SWP.

The reclamation is taking a similar approach to allocating water supply this year, given the critical conditions at Lake Shasta, the primary water source for the Central Valley Project (CVP). Reservoir levels at Shasta were the second lowest on record on May 1 this year.

Most agricultural water utility contractors will receive a zero percent CVP allocation this year from water (with Class 1 Friant Division at 15 percent) and municipal water supplies for communities at minimum levels for health and safety purposes only.

“As a cornerstone of the Central Valley project, we are working to retain as much storage as possible in the Shasta Reservoir, which is currently only at 40% capacity,” said Ernest Conant, regional manager of Refurbishment. “As such, we are relying heavily on the Folsom Reservoir to meet the Delta’s water quality needs this summer. We also work closely with state and federal partners to help protect endangered chinook salmon.

One of the actions for the winter Chinook is the installation of cooling units at the Shasta Dam that will further cool the water entering the Livingston Stone National Hatchery.

DWR recently conducted aerial observations of Shasta Lake, Oroville Lake and Folsom Lake to capture more pictures and aerial video from lake level to its seasonal peak.

DWR will continue to preserve as much storage as possible in Lake Oroville, the SWP’s largest reservoir. Water discharges from Lake Oroville will be prioritized to maintain water quality in the delta, protect endangered species and meet key water rights needs.

DWR and Reclamation have been operating the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project under a temporary emergency change order since April that allowed flexibility to release less water to the delta until to June 30 and to conserve limited stored water in the Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs. . DWR and Reclamation currently anticipate that both systems will have an available water supply to maintain Delta water quality throughout the summer.

The emergency drought salinity barrier along the West False River in the delta will remain in place to help conserve storage and reduce the amount of salt water intrusion into the delta during summer and winter. fall. The barrier is expected to remain in place until November 30, but its continued need until 2023 will be reassessed in the fall.

Uncertainty remains as summer approaches. Higher temperatures, longer heat waves and wildfires could impact water management decisions. DWR and Reclamation will continue to monitor conditions and adjust as needed to navigate severe drought conditions and plan for another dry fall and winter ahead.

With that in mind, California continues to respond with a series of drought actions:

  • Governor Newsom has called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 15%. He also urged local water agencies to take more aggressive measures to reduce water consumption through their locally developed water shortage contingency plans. The water conservation decisions of local agencies are critical to successful water resource management.
  • The National Water Resources Control Board has voted to force water agencies to move to Tier 2 of their contingency plans, intended to address a water supply shortage of up to 20%. The Water Board also voted to ban the watering of non-functional turf or decorative grass found around commercial buildings, industrial parks and along roadways. DWR estimates the ban will save hundreds of thousands of acre-feet a year, enough to supply water to more than half a million homes for a year.
  • DWR provides direct community assistance for drought relief projects and to communities most in need to address water supply challenges and help build local resilience. To date, DWR has awarded more than $406 million in drought relief funding to communities across the state. In addition, the state recently announced $150 million in funding for groundwater sustainability projects in communities that depend on groundwater for their water supply.

Californians can now access current water conditions in real time on California Water Monitoring, a new website launched by DWR. This website will help Californians see their local water conditions, forecasts, and water conditions down to their address or local watershed. The site features data from a variety of sources and allows the public to get a quick overview of local and statewide water conditions.

Additional Resources

Save our water: Tips for saving water during a drought

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