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Valley Water Board Chair John L. Varela statement on increased water allocations

February 23, 2023
Sierra Nevada snow survey in February, 2023

Record-breaking atmospheric rivers in January that boosted reservoir levels and increased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada have positively affected our water allocation amounts.

Valley Water thanks the Department of Water Resources for increasing the State Water Project allocation from 30% in January to 35% in February. In comparison, Valley Water only received a 5% allocation from the State Water Project in 2022 when Santa Clara County was in a severe drought.

The news coincides with an announced 75% water allocation from the federal government’s Central Valley Project. This constitutes municipal and industrial use. In comparison, Valley Water only received an allocation for minimum health and safety needs from the Central Valley Project last year.

While Valley Water remains cautiously optimistic about our improved water supply outlook, both amounts are subject to change based on weather conditions in the coming months. While construction is happening at Anderson Dam over the next 10 years, Valley Water will rely more on water imported from outside the county. That’s one reason why snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada, which are currently well above average for this time of year, are so important. Half the water used in our county originates in the Sierra Nevada, and our reliance is even more in drought years. If heavy rain lessens the snowpack, allocations could be reduced.

Though our water supply conditions have improved, it’s important to note the U.S. Drought Monitor still lists Santa Clara County as being in a “moderate” drought. And the State’s drought emergency has yet to be lifted. Even when this drought ends, we know another one will impact us in the future. That’s why we encourage everyone in Santa Clara County to make water conservation a way of life.

In addition to promoting conservation, Valley Water is working to diversify its water supply by investing in locally reliable, sustainable, and drought-proof supplies such as recycled and purified water.

Say yes to saving water and make a difference in your community.

Photo: Snow melts into a creek that flows into the South Fork American River in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Courtesy of Kenneth James / California Department of Water Resources.


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.