October 30, 2008

New Water-Shortage Warning for SoCal

The head of California's Metropolitan Water District says the state's planned water allocation raises the "very real" possibility of shortages next year.

"We are preparing for the very real possibility of water shortages and rationing throughout the region in 2009," MWD General Manager Jeff Kightlinger said in a written statement Thursday.

The Los Angeles-based MWD acts as a wholesaler to water districts in Southern California, which rely heavily on water imported from the northern half of the state.

Earlier in the day, the state Department of Water Resources announced it would be able to meet only 15 percent of the requests for water from the State Water Project, the lowest annual initial allotment since 10 percent in 1993.

The agency noted that the requests for 2009 were the maximum allowed by the contractors who supply water for more than 25 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland.

Actual deliveries can vary depending on the winter rains as they did in 1993 when the 10-percent allocation jumped to 100 percent; however, long-range forecasts are predicting another dry winter for California.

In addition to the drought, the DWR said it had to take into account a court order to preserve the habitat of the delta smelt in preparing its 2009 allocation.

Kightlinger said the smelt issue and other environmental considerations would continue to limit Southern California's water supply. "This is not a short-term problem that will be washed away with a few good storms," he said.