Farmers receiving allocations from the State Water Project can expect a bigger allotment this year than they anticipated as recently as last month, thanks to late-season precipitation.
The California Department of Water Resources announced Monday this year’s allocation has been raised to 35 percent of full distribution, or 1.48 million acre-feet of water statewide. (One acre foot is enough to cover one acre of land with a foot of water.)
As of last month, the agency planned to distribute only 30 percent of normal. Monday's increase represents 212,961 acre-feet, or 69.4 billion gallons, more water than was expected to be allocated statewide.
There are 29 entities that draw from the State Water Project. Together, they serve 27 million California residents, and about 750,000 acres of farmland.
The Kern County Water Agency, which is the local contractor to the State Water Project, initially requested 982,730 acre-feet. Monday's announcement means the local agency's customers will receive a total of 343,956 acre-feet of water.
The state's original allocation was estimated at 15 percent of normal in December. It rose to 20 percent in January, then to 30 percent in April.
“Late season rain and snow in March and April salvaged what would have been a severely dry year, which allows us to make this slight increase in allocation,” department Director Karla Nemeth said in a news release.
“Our water storage is currently in fair condition,” she continued, “but the state’s snowpack is still low, so Californians need to continue to embrace water conservation as a crucial part of our lifestyle.”
The state’s snow water content, one of several factors that determine allocations, fell from 44 percent of average April 21 to 15 percent Monday.
Most of the major reservoirs where California’s water is stored are above their historical averages.