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California: no allocations for state water project

Published On: Jan 31 2014 11:16:05 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 01 2014 01:31:43 AM CST
CHICO, Calif. -

For the first time in California's history, the state's Department of Water Resources won't be able to provide any water to customers of the State Water Project.

Three months ago, the department said it would allocate around five percent of requests, but due to the dry conditions that number has dropped down to zero.

"We want to echo what Governor Brown said in conserving water," said Cal Water-Oroville District Manager Toni Ruggle. "It's really important to use water wisely."

The Department of Water Resources announced Friday afternoon they will not allocate any water to the 29 districts that rely on the state water project to fill their quota.

Oroville has two districts that contract to the state, but the impact won't be significant; at least in the near term.

"85 percent of our water is surface supplied from PG&E and we also have well water that supplies that makes up the difference to our customers," said Ruggle.

Ruggle said five percent of their water total comes from the State Water Project, but don't rely heavily on it.

They have four deep water wells and PG&E to fill their quota.

"We have spoken with them [PG&E] and they have indicated to us we will have an adequate supply from them in 2014," said Ruggle.

It's a similar story for Chico. The city receives their water from aquifers below the city and do not rely at all on the State Water Project.

"A lot of the allocation goes to the Bay Area and Southern California and so forth," said Cal Water-Chico District Manager Mike Pembroke.

The impact of Friday's announcement in the short-term appears minimal; questions remain about the long-run.

"Our ground water levels at this time are stable, which is good news, but if there's additional pumping to make up for the zero allocations people are receiving and that will put more pressure on our aquifers. We need to be aware of that," said Pembroke.

The announcement of zero percent allocation is not final yet. The Department of Water Resources still has to see if we are going to get any more rain before spring.

Cal Water districts in Chico and Oroville both said their customers have cut back their water use by more than 20 percent since 2007.