California cuts off water to local agencies; 25 million to be affected

California cuts off water to local agencies; 25 million to be affected

[Ed. – Relax: the Delta smelt will not be inconvenienced.]

LOS ANGELES — Acting in one of the worst droughts in California’s history, state officials announced on Friday that they would cut off the water that it provides to local agencies serving 25 million residents and about 750,000 acres of farmland.

With no end in sight for the dry spell and reservoirs at historic lows, Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources, said his agency needed to preserve what little water remained so it could be used “as wisely as possible.”

It is the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project that water allocations to all of the public water agencies it serves have been cut to zero. That decision will force 29 local agencies to look elsewhere for water. Most have other sources they can draw from, such as groundwater and local reservoirs.

But the drought has already taken a toll on those supplies, and some cities, particularly in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area, rely almost exclusively on the State Water Project, Mr. Cowin said. …

The announcement about water allotment was made Friday in part to help farmers determine what, if anything, they should plant this year.

Many ranchers, forced to buy hay to feed their cows, have sold off much of their herds, while farmers in a number of Western states have been mulling whether to let their fields lie fallow this year.

“Farmers, fish and people are all going to get less water immediately,” Mr. Cowin said. “But we think these actions will help protect our water sources in the long run.”

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