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California Water Supply To Be Drawn From Storage To Meet Demand

Above: The Diamond Valley Lake Reservoir near Hemet holds 800,000 acre-feet of water.

Aired 5/3/13 on KPBS News.

The final California snow survey was bad news for the millions of residents and farmers who rely on the snowpack for their water. It also means water officials will have to draw from storage reserves for the first time since 2009 to meet demand.

The final California snow survey is bad news for the millions of residents and farmers who rely on the snowpack for their water. The reading was just 17 percent of normal following one of the driest winters on record, California Department of Water Resources (DWR) officials announced Thursday.

DWR projects it will only be able to deliver 35 percent of requested amounts from the State Water Project to the 29 agencies that purchase the water. The last time the allocation was that low was in 2008.

Metropolitan Water District Of Southern California

The Colorado River Aqueduct transports water from the Colorado River to Southern California.

Collectively, the agencies supply a third of the water used in households and on farms across California as the snowpack melts into streams, reservoirs and aquifers.

California's biggest source of water, the Colorado River basin, has been below normal 11 of the past 14 years. This year’s projected runoff into Lake Powell, which is a good indicator for water supply conditions, is just 44 percent.

The dwindling supplies means California will have to draw water from storage for the first time in nearly five years.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California spokesman Bob Muir said their reserves of 2.6 million acre feet are the fullest they’ve ever been, and there’s enough water storage to supply 500 million families for a year.

“It’s not as though you’d draw everything from the bank in one year and that we would have no water,” Muir explained. “It would be that we would just have to make up the difference between demand and water that we have from our sources in Northern California and the Colorado River.”

San Diego water officials said there are no plans for mandatory water cutbacks this year, but they urged continued conservation.

"It is a concern that we are in a second dry year," said Lesley Dobalian, water resources specialist with the San Diego County Water Authority.

"Because the region has done such a great job in conservation and because our storage reserves are still pretty good, I’d like to really emphasize that no restrictions or allocations are forecast for this year," Dobalian said.

San Diego’s reservoirs are 86 percent full for the 10 year average. Dobalian said local reservoirs are important for collecting runoff and to use during emergencies, "but they play a relatively small role in our overall water supply picture," she added.

Metropolitan Water District will draw from the much larger reservoirs in Southern California, such as Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet, California, which holds 800,000 acre feet of water.

Dry conditions in California accelerated the start of a dangerous fire season. Fire officials fear the thousands of acres currently burning in Ventura and Riverside Counties are just a preview of the months ahead.

Comments

Avatar for user 'jjking20000101'

jjking20000101 | May 6, 2013 at 10:42 a.m. ― 1 year, 4 months ago

In this day and age, not many people and government agencies are trust worthy. Who knows if this is not another gimmick for DWR to lay the ground for rate hikes to come?

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | May 6, 2013 at 11:03 a.m. ― 1 year, 4 months ago

jjking - you are thinking correctly.

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Avatar for user 'Len'

Len | May 6, 2013 at 12:58 p.m. ― 1 year, 4 months ago

jiking--Which of the statistics and statements do you think untrue?

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | May 6, 2013 at 4:37 p.m. ― 1 year, 4 months ago

The line "there’s enough water storage to supply 500 million families for a year" sounds misleading.

Perhaps 500 million people if water is only used for drinking (no farming, irrigation, industry, etc).

Water should be expensive to increase conservation. But the water corporations need to reinvest those profits into better treatment, storage, and delivery infrastructure.

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | May 7, 2013 at 7:12 a.m. ― 1 year, 4 months ago

The weather may be unpredictable but to expect corporations to reinvest profits for the public good is idealistic.

In this day and age, a corporation's primary allegiance is usually to its stockholders, i.e., the handful of senior mangers who are paid in stock options and a few more very large inventors. (People invested in mutual funds and 401k's don't benefit from dividends in the same way and by definition shouldn't be speculating anyway).

Gone are the days of Adam Smith nation of shop keepers. Prices are not simply supply and demand. They're also "what the market will bear." Water rates will increase for both these reasons. Dividends will be paid, but the reinvestment for the public's good will be postponed and postponed until it's a critical issue.

In our imperfect world, it seems to me, the best way to manage these conflicting interest is through the democratic process. That's why public utilities should be managed by civic-minded individuals who for all their faults are accountable to the public through elections.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | May 7, 2013 at 10:25 a.m. ― 1 year, 4 months ago

Desalination anyone?

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | May 7, 2013 at 5:34 p.m. ― 1 year, 4 months ago

Right on.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 7, 2013 at 9:43 p.m. ― 1 year, 4 months ago

jjking20000101 | yesterday at 10:42 a.m. ― 1 day, 10 hours ago
In this day and age, not many people and government agencies are trust worthy. Who knows if this is not another gimmick for DWR to lay the ground for rate hikes to come?

Corporations are even less trustworthy than the government in this country.

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