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Published on March 25, 2024
California Boosts State Water Allocations After Wet February; SWP Announces Double Water Supplies for MunicipalitiesSource: California Department of Water Resources (DWR)

California municipalities and their millions of parched residents are getting a much-needed break, as state water officials announced they are to more than double the allocation of water supplies after February's heavy storms. The California Department of Water Resources confirmed the increase in the State Water Project's (SWP) allocation for 2024 to 30% for those south of the Delta and 50% for those north, as reported by SFist.

The decision to boost the allocation was made possible thanks to generous snowfall and subsequent spring runoff forecasts. The latest snowpack measurements show levels are at a near-perfect 98% of the historical average. But with allocations set to quickly adjust every month, water supply managers are working to efficiently capture and store this gift from the winter skies. It's an effort to prepare for the uncertain scales of a changing climate and extreme weather.

The Federal Central Valley Project also foresees an increased bounty of water to be delivered, promising 100% to those north of the Delta, and bumping up the supply from 65% to 75% for those on the southern side, per reports from KPIX. This is welcome news for the state's reservoirs, which are currently sitting comfortably at 115% of average levels, with Lake Oroville—the SWP's largest reservoir—swelling to 125% of average storages.

Yet, not all challenges are washed away with the increased flow. "DWR continues to take proactive measures and use the best available science to operate our water storage and delivery system to balance water supply needs while protecting native fish species," said DWR Director Karla Nemeth in a statement from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Operation of the SWP has to follow strict regulatory guides to ensure the survival of endangered fish species, which has significantly limited the system's ability to move water into San Luis Reservoir.

Making headway in climate resilience, the DWR is pushing the Delta Conveyance Project, an initiative planning to build infrastructure allowing to more efficiently move water during high flows and aiding fish species like Steelhead trout to navigate away from the threats posed by current pumping stations. This is in tandem with their continued investment in various water sustainability projects like groundwater recharge, surface storage, desalination, and stormwater capture. Californians relying on the SWP can expect the final allocation to be set after the crucial April Snow Survey, with updates expected to keep flowing into April.