The Bakersfield Californian

Initial allocation of imported water is only 10% of requested supplies

BY CLAUDIA ELLIOTT Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist. She can be reached by email: claudia@

The initial allocation from the State Water Project announced on Dec. 1 was only 10% of requested supplies — far less than Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District would like, but better than the initial allocation the last two years.

The SWP provides water to 29 public water agencies that serve 27 million Californians. The Department of Water Resources administers the project.

“DWR’s announcement of an initial 10% allocation for 2024 is disappointing but not surprising,” TCCWD General Manager Tom Neisler said Friday. “October and November have been very dry and DWR forecasts the remainder of the water year based on historical averages, not the current year forecast.”

A year ago, much of the state was still in drought, and reservoirs were low. But rain and snow earlier this year turned the situation around.

“It is also important to note that the 10% allocation is only the initial allocation,” Neisler added. “It will be updated several times throughout the winter and often changes drastically. Last year, the initial allocation was 5%, and the final allocation was 100%.”

“TCCWD, as well as the state in general, go into this winter in much better shape than going into last winter,” Neisler said. “Most reservoirs are above historical averages, and the ground contains much more moisture.”

Lake Oroville and San Luis Reservoir, where SWP water is stored, were at 133% and 109% of average as of Friday, the DWR said. Locally, Brite Lake — where TCCWD stores water — is above its typical level and the district continued importing water until Nov. 22, much later than usual.

“California’s water year is off to a relatively dry start. While we are hopeful that this El Niño pattern will generate wet weather, this early in the season we have to plan with drier conditions in mind,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “California’s water supply continues to benefit from our aggressive efforts last

season to capture record rain and snow melt in our reservoirs and groundwater basins.”

The initial SWP allocation forecast looks ahead to 2024 and only applies to water deliveries in the year ahead. The allocation is calculated based on October and November precipitation, dry soils, runoff and storage in Lake Oroville. It has no

bearing on current water supplies or water captured in 2023.

It’s also important to know that Tehachapi’s groundwater supplies have been regulated since the early 1970s. A reduced allocation of imported water is not expected to have any effect on the ability of the city or community services districts to provide water to

existing customers.

If dry conditions persist and the allocation is not increased — or is reduced — TCCWD can be expected to enact a water priority ordinance sometime early next year.





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