SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Central Valley Project (CVP) will begin the 2023 water year with 3.6 million acre-feet of water in storage “one of the lowest starting points in recent years”, CVP officials say.

The water year begins on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30, and 2022, is the third straight year of severe drought, according to water experts.

“The 2022 water year was wetter than 2020 and 2021 in some areas of the state, but it was still well below average and came on such a large water supply deficit that it earned the title as the worst three-year drought on record with some of the driest winter months on record.”

Ernest Conant, regional director of the California-Great Basin region

A report by the Bureau of Reclamation says the 2022 water year started with an atmospheric river that brought record rain to Northern California in Oct. 2021 followed by a blast of winter storms in Dec. that produced more than six feet of Sierra snow by the end of that month. After that, the storm systems stopped visiting the state bringing three months of record dryness in northern California.

As a result snow, a vital ingredient to the state’s water supply was virtually non-existent by April 1.

To this, Reclamation responded with a 0% allocation to CVP agricultural contractors, an agreement to significantly reduce water releases from Shasta and Trinity reservoirs to prioritize storage conservation and temperature management, reducing deliveries to Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, and releasing water from Friant Dam to fulfill obligations to senior water right holders, the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors.

CVP Reservoir (Million Acre-Feet)Total Capacity (Million Acre-Feet)2022 WY Ending Storage (Million Acre-Feet)2021 WY Ending Storage (Million Acre-Feet)
Trinity2.45 .55.71
Folsom.97 .34.23
New Melones2.42 .61.84
Federal San Luis.96 .24.04
Millerton.52 .34.31
Total11.8  3.63.21
Water storage amounts comparison 2021 -2022

Because a continued drought is expected to continue in 2023, Reclamation will apply a water management strategy that emphasizes providing supplies for health and safety needs and maintaining suitable water quality in the Delta, which is the source of municipal drinking water for many communities, protecting the species and most importantly conserving storage to meet future critical needs, urban and agricultural water supplies.