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Managers of California’s two main water storage and delivery systems on March 22 announced increases to forecasted water allocations for millions of people and vast tracts of farmland.

The state Department of Water Resources, which runs the State Water Project, said its anticipated water deliveries are now 30% of the amounts requested from the 29 public agencies that rely on its water.

Those agencies serve 27 million people and supply water to 750,000 acres of farmland, mostly south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. 

That 30% delivery estimate is double what DWR estimated in February, an increase attributable to the late winter snow and rainfall totals that have accumulated across the state.

Water users north of the Delta fared a bit better in this forecast, with 50% of requested supplies allocated to water contractors in that region and 100% of allocations granted to Feather River Settlement Contractors.

Also on March 22, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project, announced increases to its delivery estimates, as well.

For contractors north of the Delta, the Bureau announced an increase of deliveries from 75% of requested supplies to 100%, and for farmers south of the Delta the agency increased estimated water deliveries from 65% to 75% of historical use, or for the amount needed to ensure public health and safety, whichever is more.

For cities south of the Delta, the Bureau set deliveries at 75% of what they typically use, or for the amount needed to ensure public health and safety, whichever is more. 

The Central Valley Project delivers water to wholesalers and retailers in 29 of the state’s 58 counties, including 5 million acre-feet to farms and 600,000 acre-feet—a year’s supply for roughly 2.5 million people—to cities and towns.

“Thanks to the improved hydrology, we are pleased to announce a bump in water supply allocations for the Central Valley Project,” said Bureau of Reclamation regional director Karl Stock. “While the series of storms in Northern California improved the water supply outlook, a number of factors, particularly anticipated regulatory constraints throughout the spring, continue to limit the water supply allocation for south-of-Delta agriculture.”

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