Can we blame Westlands shortages on Colorado River management?

California's interconnected plumbing

California's interconnected plumbing, courtesy Delta Stewardship Council

Via Doug Obegi at NRDC’s San Francisco office, more evidence today of the interconnection of water management across the western United States.

Obegi, in a post outlining the history of diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, pointed out the way water allotments to the Westlands Water District in the San Joaquin Valley decreased as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California increased use of its share of delta water in the early ’00s:

Admittedly, several decades ago, the water allocation for the 600 farmers served by Westlands was typically 100%, But back then, the 19 million people served by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California took a lot less water from the Delta. For instance, the initial 2011 allocation for Metropolitan is more than 1.146 million acre feet, and this amount is likely to increase substantially if 2011 is an average or wet year; however Metropolitan’s 1996 allocation was just over 738,000 acre feet.

And why did Met increase its diversions from the Delta? From the Bureau of Reclamation (pdf – see p. 77):

The Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) signed in 2003 resulted in a decrease in the amount of Colorado River water available to California.

Or, as I wrote back in May by way of explaining my fascination with California water:

As the Central Arizona Project fully came on line, California had to bring its usage down to reflect that reality. One thing that happened is that the Metropolitan Water District’s use of Colorado River water went down, and its use of State Water Project water, pumped from the delta, went up.

Click on the map for a bigger view of California’s interconnected plumbing, and to see how we’re all in this together, for better or worse.

One Comment

  1. No.

    1) Shortage means demand>supply. That’s nothing to do with MWD and everything to with WWD mismanagement.

    2) MWD was going to take ALL the water it could get from SWP in any case, but less if it could help it, b/c SWP water costs most. That said, remember that MWD has contracts for 2MAF from SWP; those contracts were honored once.

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