[KHTS] – After announcing in February that contractors would get zero percent of their allocation from the State Water Project, the California Department of Water Resources has raised the allocation again to five percent.
The small increase is due to the storms that hit the state in February and March, after an abnormally dry winter.
“There was enough runoff in those late season storms to increase reservoir storage…” said Ted Thomas, spokesman for theDWR.
The DWR announced preliminary five percent allocations in November, after a dry 2013, while local and state officials hoped for a wet winter.
“While we’re hoping and praying that we get at least an average weather year, we encourage people to continue conserving water and stretching every last drop,” said Dan Masnada, general manager for the Castaic Lake Water Agency, in November.
The DWR starts with a conservative allocation estimate, Thomas said, because officials don’t like having to reduce the water amount later.
But this year, it was necessary.
“There was a 90 percent chance that that allocation would increase,” said Dirk Marks, CLWA water resources manager, in Feburary. “However, we’ve had a record dry conditions in the state since then. As a result we’ve seen our allocation decrease from five percent to zero percent.”
Now the allocation is back to November levels, but it won’t have a significant impact, Thomas said, and it’s not likely to increase any more.
“I would be surprised if it increases further, but it’s alway possible,” he said. “If we get more significant rain and snow storms, it’s possible.”
And the DWR has asked contractors to not request this five percent allocation until Sept. 1, to preserve water storage at theSan Luis Reservoir, Thomas said.
It will mean an additional 4,760 acre feet for the Santa Clarita Valley, or six percent of what the community uses in a year, Masnada said.
“It’s not a lot of water, but every last drop counts,” he said.
He encouraged residents to continue serving water, which would help keep costs down and allow the CLWA to prepare if 2015 is also a dry year.
The DWR will still deliver water for health and safety needs, like human consumption and firefighting, he said.
And, the 2014 allocation will not affect water that contractors have left over from last year’s allocation, something that the CLWA can draw on.
“We still have some water left, from what we call carry-over water–unused water from 2013, from the state,” Marks said in February.
Thomas said that Central Valley farms would benefit the most from the increased allocation, but that the difference would be small.
It will “somewhat mitigate the severe drought,” he said, “but to a less than desired extent.”
For water conservation tips and Santa Clarita Valley water news, visit the Castaic Lake Water Agency online.