News Release Archive

Reclamation Anticipates Reduced Allocations Amid Harsh California Drought Conditions

Agency Begins Alerting Stakeholders in Advance of February 20 Water Supply Allocation Announcement, Assessing Options to Help Alleviate Supply Shortage

Media Contact: Pete Lucero, 916-978-5100, 02/13/2009 21:17

For Release: February 13, 2009

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that low natural inflows into the Shasta Reservoir have triggered shortage criteria in its contracts with major California water users, and that, in accordance with the contracts, available water quantities for the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors and the San Joaquin Settlement Contractors will be significantly reduced for 2009.  Reclamation is working to finalize its initial allocation for Water Year (WY) 2009 for all available Central Valley Project (CVP) supplies, which it will announce on February 20, 2009.  In anticipation of next week's announcement of initial allocations, Reclamation is working with the State of California and exploring all options under its authority to assist agriculture and municipal and industrial users, refuges, and senior water rights holders that may be affected by reduced allocations.

"If dry conditions persist through the spring, California will be facing its worst drought ever recorded, and this week's forecasts for projected runoff suggest tough times ahead," said Donald Glaser, Regional Director for Reclamation's Mid-Pacific Region.  "Although we will do all we can within our authorities in the coming days to make operational adjustments, we expect that the initial allocations that we will announce next week will not be good news for anyone.  The Department of the Interior, including the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are deeply concerned about this situation and its human and environmental impacts.  These allocations will have serious impacts on the State of California, and we are exploring all possible options within our authority to try to help those affected in these very tough times."

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, Reclamation received the February 1 runoff forecast from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).  Using this data, Reclamation will determine the available water supply amounts in the coming week and release the initial WY 2009 allocation for available CVP supplies on Friday, February 20, 2009.  The initial allocation will quantify the available water supplies for agriculture and municipal and industrial users, refuges, and senior water rights holders. 

Reclamation has determined that the forecasted full natural inflow to Shasta Reservoir is 2.47 million acre-feet for WY 2009; The 1956-2005 average inflow is 6.1 million acre-feet.  This determination triggers the shortage criteria in Reclamation's contracts with the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors and the San Joaquin River Settlement Contractors, including the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors.  Today, in accordance with requirements of these contracts, Reclamation sent letters to the Settlement Contractors to notify them of the official forecast of hydrologic conditions for WY 2009 and the triggering of the shortage criteria.  Consistent with the contracts, available water quantities for the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (north of Delta) will be reduced by 25 percent for WY 2009, and available water quantities for the San Joaquin River Settlement Contractors (south of Delta) will be reduced to about 77 percent of their maximum contract amount.  On February 20, 2009, Reclamation will issue a press release announcing the WY 2009 supply allocations to CVP Water Service Contractors.

During this critically dry period, Reclamation is closely coordinating with the State of California, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and other Federal, State, and local organizations to fulfill its water supply obligations, which include water quality and the protection of fish and wildlife and associated habitats.

On February 5, 2009, Reclamation and DWR submitted a request to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for temporary emergency modifications to some February Delta outflow objectives, and on Tuesday, February 17, 2009, the SWRCB will hold a hearing on Reclamation's and DWR's joint request.  Reclamation and DWR have also initiated a number of other actions to minimize drought impacts and meet health and safety needs, including the creation of a Drought Water Bank.  In addition, since 2000 the CALFED Bay-Delta Program has focused on improved water supply reliability, conveyance improvements, ecosystem restoration, and water quality improvements.

For additional information, please contact the Mid-Pacific Region Public Affairs Office at 916-978-5100 or e-mail or visit the Region's website at

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