Tuesday, December 8, 2009

California water allocation hits record-low level

Steve Gorman in Reuters: California officials said on Tuesday that drought and environmental restrictions have forced them to cut planned water deliveries to irrigation districts and cities statewide to just 5 percent of their contracted allotments. Although the state Water Resources Department typically ends up supplying more water than first projected for an upcoming year, its 5 percent initial allocation for 2010 marks the smallest on record since the agency began delivering water in 1967.

Drastic cutbacks in irrigation supplies this year alone from both state and federal water projects have idled some 23,000 farm workers and 300,000 acres of cropland in California, according to researchers at the University of California at Davis. Water shortages also have forced California cities large and small to raise rates they charge and to ration supplies.

The state water allocation initially set for this year was 15 percent of the amount users are entitled to receive under their contracts. That figure was later raised to 40 percent, still well below the 68 percent averaged over the past decade.

While a return to wetter weather in the months ahead could quickly ease the crunch, the initial 2010 allotment was greeted with alarm up and down a state already beset with chronic budget problems and jobless levels above the national average.

"On the heels of three years of drought and ongoing regulatory restrictions, we are now bracing for yet another year of painfully limited water supplies," said Laura King Moon, assistant general manager for the State Water Contractors….

A black and white photo of a bridge in Highland Park over the Los Angeles River, while it is flowing in the spring. Shot by Downtowngal, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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