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More Water But Mandatory Rationing Still Likely

Above: The California Department of Water Resources issued its lowest ever initial estimate on how much water will be delivered from the State Water Project. Winter rain and snowfall may provide relief, but will likely not counteract three years of drought.

— The California Department of Water Resources says it will increase the amount of water delivered from the state water project this year. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce says local water agencies will take every extra drop of water they can get.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) says late winter storms increased snowpack to near 90 percent of normal.

That means an increase in 2009 deliveries from the state water project, which make up about 30 percent of San Diego's supply.

Bob Yamada with the San Diego County Water Authority says the additional water is equal to a year's supply for 200,000 homes.

"Given our current water supply situation we're grateful for any increase in water supply that we can get, Yamada said. "Does this increase in water supply mean that it's going to significantly change our situation? The answer is probably no."

He says the added supply will likely not prevent mandatory rationing in Southern California.

State officials say water storage in California's major reservoirs is well below average.

In making today's revised allocation, the DWR cautioned that drought conditions still prevail in California.

"One wet month can not overcome back to back dry years in 2007 and 2008, so we're still in a drought.," said DWR Senior Meteorologist Elissa Lynn.

DWR drought officials report that 18 agencies in California have implemented some form of mandatory water conservation measure and that voluntary conservation measures have been adopted by 57 agencies.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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