Agriculture

Drought Yo-Yo: Calif. officials announce hefty cuts to water deliveries

Following an early preview of the possibility that they could – once again – zero out water supplies, California water officials announced a similarly drastic cut to contractors of the State Water Project on Friday.

In an announcement by the Department of Water Resources, California will now reduce allocations from the post-December high of 15 percent to 5 percent.

The move affects roughly 27 million people in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California and just shy of 1 million acres of productive farmland reliant on water supplies delivered via the California Aqueduct.

The announcement comes amid a 75-day dry spell following a wet-and-wild December that helped boost.

State water regulations, however, forced a considerable amount of the supplies gained in December to flow through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to the Pacific Ocean for environmental purposes.

That action is described as a “first flush.”

“We are experiencing climate change whiplash in real time with extreme swings between wet and dry conditions,” Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement. “That means adjusting quickly based on the data and the science.”

While Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t taken to severe water cutback orders akin to those issued by his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, during the 2014 drought, his call for a 15 percent reduction of water use has fallen on deaf ears in the Golden State, current reports suggest.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.