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California Dept. of Water Resources announces 5% initial allocation for State Water Project

December 02, 2022
Low Levels at Shasta Lake

With visibly low water conditions shown in this aerial photograph taken at Shasta Lake in Shasta County near the Pit River Bridge, a section of shoreline is seen on a day when storage was 1,469,736 AF (Acre Feet) which was 32% of total capacity. Photo taken October 13, 2022. Andrew Innerarity / California Department of Water Resources.

Despite some early season rain, the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies 99.48% of California as being in drought. About 85% of the state, and all of Santa Clara County, are classified as being in a severe, extreme or exceptional drought.

These dry conditions have a significant impact on the water supply outlook in Santa Clara County.

On Dec. 2, the California Dept. of Water Resources announced an initial 5% allocation of imported water from the State Water Project. The Dept. of Water Resources also indicated it will work with water agencies to provide water beyond the 5% to help meet minimum human health and safety needs.  

“This initial allocation serves as a stark reminder that the drought emergency is not over,” Valley Water Chair Pro Tem John L. Varela said. “We’re thankful for the early season rainfall and we hope to see more storms this winter. But we must continue to reduce our water use. We owe it to our kids, family and community not to waste water.”

Climate change is resulting in hotter and more extreme weather events, with potentially longer and more severe droughts. Experts say that California needs at least one well-above-average water year, and maybe more, to end the drought and replenish reservoirs.

Currently, Valley Water’s reservoirs and the state’s reservoirs are well below their historical averages for this time of year.

During the past few years, Valley Water augmented Santa Clara County’s water supply and groundwater basins by withdrawing water we had previously stored in a groundwater “bank” outside the county, purchasing emergency water from willing sellers and aggressively increasing conservation. If we endure a fourth year of drought, purchasing these emergency water supplies may be harder to obtain.

The Valley Water Board of Directors has taken several steps to help Santa Clara County use less water during the drought emergency.

In June 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors established a 15% water use reduction goal for Santa Clara County compared to 2019. After months of steady progress, Santa Clara County reached this goal in July and August, saving 16% compared to July 2019.

The Valley Water Board of Directors also implemented rules aimed at reducing outdoor watering during the drought. Some of the rules include watering ornamental lawns no more than two days a week, and a restriction on outdoor watering during and within 48 hours of rainfall.

Valley Water asks everyone to continue to do their part. Residents, businesses and farms can take advantage of Valley Water’s robust conservation programs by visiting

Please say yes to saving water and together we can protect our current and future water supply.

Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 285 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 294 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.