Bureau of Reclamation Banner
Mid-Pacific Region
Sacramento, Calif.
Media Contact:
Lynnette Wirth
(916) 978-5100

Released On: January 23, 2009

Bureau of Reclamation Discusses Preliminary 2009 Central Valley Project Water Supply Conditions

In preparation for the initial 2009 water allocation announcement in February, the Bureau of Reclamation today released information on water supply conditions for the Federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and provided comparisons between current conditions and those in January 2008 and 2007, 1992 and 1977 (drought years), and the 15-year average.

Water conditions over the past several years have been very dry.  Water Years (WY) 2007 and 2008 were critically dry for both the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins.  Precipitation in Northern California in WY 2008 was approximately 70 percent of average, and the CVP carried over only 3.9 million acre-feet (MAF) from WY 2008 into WY 2009, which is just 35 percent of storage capacity (Reclamation's WY runs from October 1 to September 30).  Carryover from WY 2007 to WY 2008 was 5.3 MAF.   The 2-year combined total Northern California precipitation for WY 2007 (37.2 inches) and 2008 (34.9 inches) is 72.1 inches, the 9th driest 2-year period on record and was only about 70 percent of average. 

For this year, the California Department of Water Resource's January 1, 2009, Snow Survey found snow-water content to be 76 percent of normal Statewide as compared to 60 percent of normal last year; however, very little additional precipitation or snowfall has occurred since that time.  Precipitation in Northern California is currently only 66 percent of the seasonal average.

The following table shows current conditions in five key CVP reservoirs as of January 19 for 2009, 2008, and 2007, as well as the 15-year average

CVP Reservoir Storage Comparisons for 2009, 2008, 2007, and 15-Year Average
As of January 19 for Each Year - Storages Listed in Millions of Acre-feet (MAF)

CVP Reservoir Capacities

2009

% of
Capacity

2008

% of 
Capacity

2007

% of
Capacity

15-Year Average

% of  15-Year Average*

Shasta  4.552

1.394

31%

2.035

45%

3.377

75%

3.135

44%

New Melones  2.420

1.152

48%

1.465

61%

1.985

82%

1.630

71%

Trinity  2.448

.978

40%

1.403

57%

1.799

73%

1.718

57%

Folsom  0.977

.218

22%

.259

27%

 .485

50%

.458

48%

Fed. San Luis  0.966

.289

30%

.711

74%

.762

79%

.752

38%

Total  11.363

4.031

35%

5.873

52%

8.408

74%

7.693

52%

* This percentage is the current January 19, 2009, storage divided by the 15-Year Average storage.

As a comparison of current conditions to past drought years, storage on January 19 of the drought years 1992 and 1977, the total CVP storage/percent of capacity for these five reservoirs was:  1992 3.088 MAF / 27 percent of capacity; 1977 3.499 MAF / 31 percent of capacity.  The historic low carryover storage from one water year to the next was in 1977 at 1.1 MAF. 

As of January 19, 2009, precipitation in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin was 13.54 inches as measured at Huntington Lake, as compared to a 30-year average of 18.3 inches or 74 percent of average.  Current storage at Millerton Lake is about 200,000 acre-feet compared to a 30-year average of about 300,000 acre-feet for the same date.  Accordingly, initial allocations for Friant Division Contractors will be relatively low. 

Given the current dry conditions and low reservoir storages, project operations and water delivery will be very challenging this year.  As a result, the initial CVP allocations will be relatively low this year.  The first official 2009 CVP water allocation announcement is planned for Friday, February 20, 2009.  Throughout the precipitation season, updated information will be provided as condition warrant.  To receive the latest update on CVP operations, please contact Reclamation's Public Affairs Office at 916-978-5100.  In the coming months, additional information will be posted on the Mid-Pacific Region's website at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/.

# # #
Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.