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No Bureau water deliveries in 2014?

Even a normal year may not help situation

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No Bureau water deliveries in 2014?

San Luis Reservoir dropped to a record low of 18 percent capacity last month.

Photos contributed/


POSTED September 11, 2013 12:57 a.m.

If California snaps the current dry trend and has average snowpack and rainfall in the water year starting Oct. 1 it won’t break the back of the current water crisis.

That’s because Bureau of Reclamation water levels behind reservoirs such as New Melones, Friant, San Luis, Folsom, and Shasta are so depleted tit will still be a struggle even with normal precipitation over the next 13 months to replenish storage.

South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Jeff Shields was at a Bureau meeting when water contractors were told of the strong possibility they would receive no water next year.

That would be devastating for large swaths of agricultural in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. It also  would add more volatility to the politics surrounding the Twin Tunnels proposal and a $11 billion water bond now being cobbled together in Sacramento.

Signs that a third straight dry year could have significant consequences for urban and rural water supplies include:

*Statewide runoff as of July 31 was 60 percent of normal with the Sierra snowpack having only 17 percent of its normal moisture content.

*The year 2013 is the direst on record.

*The United States Department of Agriculture as declared 24 California counties disaster areas due to drought losses.

*Lake Powell on the Colorado River is at 45 percent capacity.

*State Water Contractors have received only 35 percent of their needs forcing them to increase groundwater use.

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