The Coastal Post - May, 1998

A Glut Of Water Planned For This Year

The Department of Water Resources plans to deliver 100 percent of the entitlement water request for 1998 by its 29 long-term State Water Project (SWP) contractors.

SWP supplies are projected to meet all 3.19 million acre-feet requested by the contractors. (An acre-foot of water contains 325,900 gallons and is often described as the amount of water sufficient to meet the needs of five people for one year.)

Heavy rainfall, deep Sierra snowpack and ample reservoir storage all resulted from a wetter-than-average winter.

SWP delivery approvals are based chiefly on the amount of water presently stored in SWP reservoirs, a conversative projection of run-off for the remainder of 1998, contractor requests and SWP operation constraints.

Since the end of a six-year drought in 1992, the SWP has delivered 100 percent of the water requested by contractors in all years except 1994.

A major operational constraint currently is posed by repairs being made to a portion of the California Aqueduct north of San Luis Reservoir. In projecting 100 per cent deliveries, SWP officials expect that the repairs will be completed by mid-May. The repairs are to permanently fix an aqueduct leak plugged last August at Mile Post 55.

While the repairs are made, the aqueduct portion north of San Luis Reservoir is closed. As needed, deliveries can be made from San Luis Reservoir, which is downstream from the repair site, to areas in the San Joaquin Valley, southern California and the central coast.

To ensure full deliveries, DWR is seeking approval from the State Water Resources Control Board to divert SWP water from the Delta at the federal Tracy Pumping Plant during the temporary aqueduct closure.

The SWP is a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, power plants and pumping plants. It extends for more than 600 miles and supplies water to 29 local and regional agencies called the State Water Contractors.

The SWP provides water to approximately 20 million Californians and about 600,000 acres of farmland, with about 70 percent of water entitlements under contract for urban users and 30 percent for agricultural users.

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