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The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) has announced initial surface water supply allocations from the Central Valley Project (CVP) for the 2024 water year. 

The 2023 water year left most California reservoirs in a good place, after a record-setting winter. While it has been a slow start to the 2024 water year, recent storms have brought the Sierra Nevada snowpack up to nearly average. The initial water supply allocations are based on an estimate of water available for delivery to CVP water users and reflect current reservoir storage, precipitation and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

Contractors south-of-Delta have been allocated 15% of their agricultural contract total. The San Benito County Water District (SBCWD) is one of many federal contractors that depends on surface water from the CVP.

Agricultural water customers of SBCWD have requested 22,800 acre-feet of surface water delivered via the CVP for this year. The current agricultural allocation of 15% equates to 5,332 acre-feet of water. Due to the large allocation from last year’s winter storms, the SBCWD was able to store water in our local reservoir (San Justo). Because of this action, the SBCWD will initially offer a 35% allocation, or 8,332 acre-feet of water to agricultural water customers. 

The initial announcement of municipal and industrial (M&I) water supply allocations is 65%. This is water that is supplied to homes and industry. Because of our locally stored water from last year and demand from this sector, the SBCWD will be able to deliver a full allocation. 

This also means both surface water treatment plants will be able to produce enough water to blend with local groundwater to deliver high quality drinking water to customers of Sunnyslope County Water District and the City of Hollister. M&I water has a higher availability and dependability due to health and safety concerns for communities. 

The SBCWD is cautiously optimistic that the allocations will increase from the USBR because of recent and future storms. However, the initially low allocations this year and the swings in allocations from year to year reinforce the need for continued investment to ensure San Benito County has a sustainable water supply not just for this year but also for the future. 

The SBCWD has authority by state statute for management of water resources within San Benito County and is the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for the county. The SBCWD is governed by an elected five-member Board of Directors and administered by the General Manager/Engineer.

The SBCWD owns two surface water treatment plants in the Hollister Urban Area that deliver drinking water to Sunnyslope County Water District and the City of Hollister. The SBCWD also manages local and imported surface water through the San Benito River System and the San Felipe Distribution System. 

The San Felipe System delivers imported Central Valley Project (CVP) water to irrigation, municipal and industrial customers. The drinking water that the SBCWD delivers to Sunnyslope County Water District and the City of Hollister ultimately becomes recycled water from the City of Hollister’s Reclamation Plant. This reclaimed water is then used for irrigation water by local farmers.

For more information visit www.sbcwd.com or call 831.637.8218.

Shawn O. Novack

San Benito County Water District

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