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Heavy Calif. snowpack could boost water deliveries

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Late-season storms could translate into larger-than-expected water deliveries to California cities and farms, the state water agency said Friday.

The Department of Water Resources released its final snow survey of the season, reporting the state snowpack has grown to 143 percent of normal for this time of year across the 400-mile Sierra Nevada.

The department had estimated it would be able to deliver water contractors 30 percent of their requests. Department director Mark Cowin said the latest measurements could allow the department to increase that allocation.

The northern Sierra region had the largest snowpack – 188 percent of normal – followed by the southern Sierra at 139 percent. The central Sierra showed 121 percent.

Cowin cautioned that many parts of the state still face water shortages after three years of drought and pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Federal water managers announced earlier this month that they would boost deliveries to the Central Valley, where thousands of agricultural acres remain fallow.

“If we are to ensure an adequate water supply for the future, it is critical that we conserve water and develop smarter, more sustainable ways to manage our water resources,” Cowin said.

Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, called the planned water allocations overly restrictive.

“We’ve had a relatively wet water year, and we’re still getting drought-like water allocations,” he said.

Over the past decade, the Department of Water Resources has delivered 68 percent of water requests, on average. Last year, cities and farmers received 40 percent.


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