State raises water allocation from 0 to 5 percent, Kern County still paying for full contract

Only 6 percent of KC's contracted water received

BAKERSFIELD - The California Department of Water Resources announced it will increase the water delivery allocation from 0 to 5 percent. 

This means that State Water Project water users in Kern County will now receive 49,137 acre-feet of SWP water in 2014.

Water managers throughout the state have been diligently and aggressively responding to this the third, and most severe, year of drought conditions.  

Water storage in the State’s major reservoirs and runoff projections remain well below average. 

The SWP allocation last year was 35 percent.  Over the last eight years, the average SWP allocation was a meager 42.5 percent.

Kern County’s contracted SWP amount is 982,730 acre-feet per year.  Even with this allocation increase, Kern County will still pay for 933,594 acre-feet of water it will not receive this year.  Kern County and other SWP contractors must pay all of their SWP contract costs, regardless of whether any water is received, and pay additional costs for any water received (transportation costs, etc.). 

This year, Kern County SWP water entities will pay approximately $1,500 per acre-foot of actual water received, which represents a total of $69 million of water not received.

“During this unprecedented drought crisis, Kern County has been using every available asset to meet local needs," said Kern County Water Agency (Agency) Board of Directors President Ted Page. "This additional water will not only meet the direct needs of local water users, but will also allow much more flexibility in the utilization of Kern County’s world-class groundwater banking and water transportation facilities, and other water supply programs.”

“Even with the increased allocation, we are in a very difficult situation because our groundwater reserves are being depleted,” said Agency General Manager Jim Beck.  “Our growers are facing unbelievable financial hardships, including paying a $69 million bill for water they won’t be receiving this year from the SWP.”

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