Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency just learned was allocated 14,484 acre-feet of surface water for 2021, or 10% of its 144,844 acre-feet Table A contracted entitlement from the State Department of Water Resources. An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons, the amount industry experts say is consumed annually in the average single-family Antelope Valley household.
DWR on Dec. 1, notified all 29 State Water Project Contractors of their initial allocations for 2021, equivalent to 10% of their Table A contractual entitlements, which totals 4,172,786 acre-feet. The 10% allocation equals a combined total of 422,848 acre-feet among the contractors, based on their individual agreements with DWR, their supply requests and in consideration of public policy.
Factors that impact the allocated percent of SWP supplies received include the amount of water stored in the system’s network of reservoirs as well as limits determined in the 2019 Biological Opinions for federally identified protected species, such as Chinook salmon, and the 2020 Incidental Take Permit for state identified species like the Delta smelt.
As the year progresses, with potential changes in precipitation and water supply conditions, DWR reserves the right to alter this initial allocation – either increasing or decreasing the amount.
DWR explained that the state is beginning the New Year with a “dry start,” resulting in the 10% allocation. However, DWR also noted that it reviews allocations monthly, according to measurements taken of the snowpack in the Sierras and runoff information, with the final percentage usually decided in May.
“While we still have several months ahead of us, dry conditions persist,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “As communities throughout California prepare to support their environment and economies through times of extended dry periods, state agencies plan together to support those communities. Californians can help by always using water carefully, inside and outside of their homes and businesses.”
Water conservation was Nemeth’s message.
DWR’s eight precipitation stations in Northern California recorded a record-low zero % of average rainfall in October and 53% in November.
Most of the major reservoirs are also lower than their historical average. Lake Oroville, the largest reservoir, is at 61% of its average to date and San Luis Reservoir, where AVEK gets its supply, is at 76%.
AVEK General Manager Dwayne Chisam, who keenly watches the state’s hydrology, has been alerting the Agency’s customers of a possible low allocation for the past couple of months.