BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — This time of year is highly anticipated for all because of the holiday season. But for water agencies especially as it’s the time the California Department of Water Resources will deliver the big news how much water they’ll be initially allocated for the year. This time, the low is unprecedented.
“With water allocation before, there’s been a five percent, but never a 0%,” said Tom McCarthy, General manager of the Kern County Water Agency.
That’s a new low for state water project water supply allocation in California, one McCarthy from one of the 29 water agencies dependent on this allocation said is something they’ve never seen before.
December is the California Department of Water Resources projection for contracted water that can be delivered in the next water year. At this time, no supply is allocated to 29 agencies dependent on that supply, except in the case of health and safety emergencies.
“Especially going into a potential third year of a drought, our possibilities are stretched pretty thin for water supplies,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy said the state water project is not only the source for 750,000 acres of agricultural land throughout California, but also 27 million residents with their agency being a wholesaler for a large portion of municipal water In Kern County-that means depending on where you live, it can impact your personal water use.
“Between Tehachapi, west Kern and the Bakersfield metropolitan area--increment district number 4. So, it’s got a pretty significant impact. That being said, all water purveyors tend to work on their supply portfolio so when there’s difficult times, they will have alternative supplies,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy added that the adjustments will come monthly and they’re hopeful for higher allocations throughout the water year which ends around June. The drought and low storage levels not just affecting their supply.
Separately, the city of Bakersfield announced that beginning December 14th, there will be mandatory water restrictions for the city’s water system customers. Which are not different from those Cal Water customers will also be experiencing.
But conservation whether on the municipal or agricultural level McCarthy said is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
“Efficiency and particularly, agricultural water efficiency has been a high priority for many years, but conservation alone cannot solve California’s long-term supply issues,” said McCarthy. “This crisis underscores California’s chronic water supply needs, including the need for water supply infrastructure, new conveyance as well as new storage.”