Recent storms to boost SoCal water supply, but challenges linger
Southern California’s public water agencies will receive some extra water from the state as a result of the recent set of storms that pounded California, the Department of Water Resources announced Thursday.
The department expects to deliver 30% of requested water supplies this year, a stark increase from a projected 5% on Dec. 1. That increases the total amount of water supply to 1.27 million acre-feet.
Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said in a statement that the increased allocation, combined with water from the recent storms, will “certainly help” communities affected by the drought but that the region’s water challenges are “far from over.”
The district is continuing to “draw down” the Diamond Valley Lake, its largest reservoir, to meet water demands. There are also concerns over imported water from the Colorado River, according to Hagekhalil.
“In no way do these recent storms erode our commitment to continue investing in an equitable and reliable water supply to all of our member agencies,” Hagekhalil said. “We must be prepared for the next drought, or if dry conditions return in this current one. To replenish local storage and reduce reliance on imported supplies, we must all use water as efficiently as possible.”
Hagekhalil said the region must invest in local water supplies, develop new storage across the state and improve the flexibility of its distribution system.
“Nature has given us some relief this winter, but we need to recognize and continue adapting to the changing climate,” Hagekhalil said.
The two largest reservoirs in the State Water Project, the Oroville and San Luis, have increased its water storage by 1.62 million acre feet, enough to provide water to 5.6 million households for one year.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will increase deliveries to local agencies supporting two-thirds of California residents.
“We’ll keep pushing to modernize our water infrastructure to take advantage of these winter storms and prepare communities for the climate-driven extremes of wet and dry ahead,” Newsom said.
State water officials said they were “cautiously optimistic” that California will weather the worst effects of the drought by early summer. Officials will measure snow levels throughout the winter and spring to get a clearer outlook at water supply.