Another Cut For Friant’s Water Supply
Class 1 Down To 45%;
Restoration Flows Drop
Another bite has been taken by this year’s mostly dry conditions out of the Friant Division’s remaining Central Valley Project water supply but this time Friant’s Class 1 users are not alone.
The San Joaquin River Restoration Program’s interim flows are also being reduced. The Restoration Administrator’s office has changed to a hydrograph at the low end of a dry year scenario that schedules lessened interim flows below Friant Dam.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials in Fresno reduced the Friant Division’s supply for Class 1 contractors to 45%. There continues to be no Class 2 supply. Restoration flow releases have been factored into the new declaration.
The reduction means that the Friant Division’s overall Central Valley Project water supply water would only total about 30% of the 2.2 million acre-feet under combined Class 1 and Class 2 contracts. It was the third reduction this spring in the Friant Division’s water supply allocation. Reclamation’s initial declaration, made in March, was for a 65% Class 1 supply.
That was subsequently reduced to 55% and then to 50% before the latest decrease was made following Bureau analysis of the San Joaquin River watershed’s meager May 1 snow survey findings; runoff projections; upstream power company generation plans; and Friant contractors’ anticipated water-use schedules.
The new allocation means that Class 1 users will receive only 360,000 acre-feet out of the 800,000 acre-feet of water under contract. All 800,000 acre-feet would need to be available before Reclamation would make available any Class 2 water, the next 1.4 million acre-feet of contract supply. There has been no Class 2 water since the last above-average water year, 2011.
STORAGE DECLINE AHEAD
Even with the reduced supplies for contractors and the Restoration Program, Millerton Lake storage is expected to decrease rapidly in June as irrigation demands increase after holding fairly steady the past few months due to low demand based in large part on the lack of Friant’s Central Valley Project supply.
As of May 14, Millerton Lake held 370,446 acre-feet, 71.2% of capacity, and was rising slowly.
As summer progresses, however, there are concerns that the reservoir northeast of Fresno could flirt with the lake’s “dead storage” pool.
At a storage level of 135,000 acre-feet and below, water could no longer be diverted into the Madera or Friant-Kern canals. A seldom-utilized procedure known as “inflow prorate” would have to be employed by Reclamation to balance actual Millerton Lake inflow with releases to the canals and river below Friant Dam.