[CLWA] – The other shoe dropped Friday in the State’s worsening battle against severe drought as the California Department of Water Resources announced that the contractors that buy water from the State Water Project — including Castaic Lake Water Agency — will get zero percent of their 2014 water allocations, barring a miracle end to what has been a devastatingly dry winter.
“This sends a clear message about just how serious this drought is,” said CLWA General Manager Dan Masnada. “California is in the midst of a water crisis and it’s going to affect everyone in the state.”
In late November, gloomy forecasts of a dry winter and below-average Sierra snowpack prompted DWR to announce its initial allocation of 5 percent of the water requested by the 29 agencies that contract with the State Water Project (generally the allocation is adjusted through the winter as precipitation occurs and finalized by no later than May 1st of each year). Friday’s announcement reduced that trickle to nothing, other than some carryover water deliveries remaining from 2013.
How will that affect Santa Clarita Valley residents? Locally, the news is somewhat mixed: On one hand, CLWA and the four local water retailers have done well in creating a diverse water supply portfolio that relatively insulates the Santa Clarita Valley against droughts, through careful management of local groundwater, storage of unused imported water from previous years and purchases of water from other sources outside the SCV.
“On the other hand, the statewide situation is as dire as it’s ever been, and SCV residents need to take action to further protect against the drought’s potential long-term impacts,” Masnada said.
“This is the first time in the State Water Project’s 54-year history that such a drastic step has been needed — they’ve never had to cut deliveries to all SWP contractors to zero before. So, it’s increasingly important for everyone throughout the state, including those of us in the SCV, to use water as efficiently as we can,” Masnada said. “We don’t know how long this drought will continue, and we must do what we can to stretch the supplies we have.”
To that end, the SCV Water Committee — which also includes CLWA, the four local water retailers, the City of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles — is scheduled Tuesday to discuss voluntary conservation measures with the goal of reducing local water consumption by up to 15 percent.
In the meantime, Masnada said, “All residents should start doing what they can to save water. Conservation tips for inside the home and on landscaped areas can be found under the Conservation tab at www.clwa.org.”
It would take much more than a few winter storms to pull California out of the drought, which started with a dry 2012, continued with a record-dry 2013 and has stretched into 2014 with a record-dry January. According to the DWR’s announcement, it would need to rain and snow heavily every other day until May in order to reach average annual rain and snowfall levels.
State officials said the conditions have compelled DWR to take Friday’s action to conserve the remaining water in California’s rapidly emptying reservoirs. The DWR decision comes on the heels of Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s declaration of a drought state of emergency two weeks ago.
“The harsh weather leaves us little choice,” DWR Director Mark Cowin said. “Simply put, there’s not enough water in the system right now for customers to expect any water this season from the Project.”
About the Castaic Lake Water Agency
The Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) is the Santa Clarita Valley’s public water wholesaler. CLWA is one of 29 State Water Project contractors and receives water imported from northern California and Kern County through the California Aqueduct. CLWA operates two large treatment plants, three major pump stations, three water storage facilities and over 45 miles of large diameter transmission pipelines delivering water to four local water retailers. Our mission is to provide reliable, quality water at a reasonable cost to the Santa Clarita Valley. www.clwa.org