Authorities in California recently announced that the state will boost water deliveries for state water contractors to 100% of requested supplies. This is an increase from 75% of requested water supplies the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced in March and up from 35% announced in February this year. In contrast, in 2022, the DWR slashed allocation to 5% at the start of the year as the state was preparing for continued drought conditions.
The scarcity of water along with the high energy and fertiliser costs have been providing price support to some of California’s agricultural crops, including some nuts and dried fruits such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, raisins and prunes, of which California is a major producer and exporter.
The latest increase to 100% allocation is the highest since 2006, and it means that farmers on approximately 750,000 acres of farmland under the State Water Project in California would receive all of their requested water for the year.
The water delivery allocation follows the recent storms across the state and additional water resources being available from the snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Range.
On top of the 100% allocation, the state is also sending additional water to regions for groundwater recharge and added reservoir supplies.
Statewide, California reservoir levels were at 104% of their historical average on 5th May, with the largest two reservoirs, Shasta and Oroville, being at 98% and 93% of their capacity, respectively, in the first week of May.
Concerning the drought conditions present throughout the past couple of years, only 8% of the state was in moderate drought on 2nd May 2023, compared with 100% at the same time last year, according to the US Drought Monitor. In addition, areas experiencing ‘extreme’ drought, the second most severe level of drought according to the US Drought Monitor, fell from 41% of the total state area a year ago to 0% in the first week of May 2023.