Officials with the Central Valley Project, operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, warned water users today that they don't plan to deliver any water to contractors both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

They cited the prolonged drought and less-than-normal snowpack as of Feb. 1 in the Sierra Nevada as reasons for their move.

They say they are taking a consevative approach, and there's a 90 percent chance that runoff will be greater than forecast.

Contractors who receive water from the Friant Reservoir, will receive 25 percent of Class 1 water and no Class 2 water. Class 1 water is for more senior water rights holders.

Stanislaus River contractors, who supply water to the CVP Eastside Divison, will receive no water. The deliveries are based on outflows from New Melones Reservooir, which are predicted at 360,000 acre-feet.

An acre-foot--about 325,800 gallons--can meet the annual water needs of a family of four.

Municipal and industrial users will receive 50 percent of contract deliveries, whereas wildlife refuges will receive 75 percent.

Users who have historical water rights will receive between 75 percent and 77 percent of contract amounts, depending on location. These are based on the 90 percent exceedence forecast.

Dan Nelson, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority in Los Banos, Calif., says the announcement underscores the state's broken water delivery system.

“Though the drought is contributing to this gloomy outlook, the magnitude of the cutback is amplified by our dysfunctional regulatory and water supply systems," he says. "We have had droughts before but never have the effects been so dire."

Nelson also pointed to the wide-ranging impact the lack of water will have on the state.

"No water deliveries this year from the federal Central Valley Project to our farmers will deepen the already terrible economic situation in our  San Joaquin Valley and have a rippling effect that will extend through California and into the nation," he says. "Inactivity on the farm will impact demand for otherwise necessary products and services, further depressing our communities, some of which are among the poorest in the country."

The University of California, Davis, has estimated that the reduced irrigation deliveries could cost up to 80,000 jobs and cut $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion from the San Joquin Valley's economy.

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