Happy New Year!

Surprised by today’s title? Has Steve finally gone ’round the bend?

Actually, the official Water Year begins on October 1. It’s much like the fiscal years used by many companies and government agencies — including the State of California — which typically begin on July 1. The federal government’s fiscal year also begins on October 1. So, no. I haven’t gone loony — at least not any more loony.

Instead of singing Auld Lang Syne, watching Dick Clark, or popping champagne, we boring water folks will look at the past year and see what our supply picture looks like. You can find today’s graph at:


So how was water year 2009-2010? Looking at the Oroville storage graph, we see a nice increase of around 400,000 acre-feet over last year. How much water is this? It’s close to the combined total storage of Pyramid and Castaic Lakes. So that makes this a pretty good water year.

The California Department of Water Resources will continue to monitor the storage at Oroville and the other reservoirs in the State system over the next couple of months. At that time, they will inform the customers of the system — the State Water Contractors — of their “initial allocation” for calendar year 2011. The “allocation” is the percentage of water — for which the Contractor has already paid — that they can actually receive from the system.

That’s right: the water allocation is for the calendar year. So the poor folks at DWR need to contend with three different “years”: fiscal, calendar, and water. No wonder they’re so confused. It reminds me of a song by Robert Lamm of the group Chicago: “Does anybody really know what time it is?” See:


I’ll check back with you when we hear from DWR about the initial allocation for next year. Given the good water year just concluded, it figures to be better than the meager 5% with which we began 2010. But don’t expect it to be anywhere near 100%, either. As we saw this year, DWR always begins with a low allocation, and then increases it if the weather cooperates.

Raise your glass of tap water with me, and let’s toast to a Happy New Water Year in 2010-2011!

One Response to Happy New Year!

  1. avatar Phoebe says:

    The problem with using ocean water is the cost of budiling the desalination plant and energy require to operate. Also by using ocean water, it is going to impact the local species of fish. Because the pumps that are use to get the water into the plant will suck in debris that are small enough to pass through the filter screen. Also increase in fish mortality because they will be stuck outside the filter screen as the pump is actively pumping water in.

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