The Tri-Valley's potable water wholesaler was recently notified that it will only get 10% of the water it requested from a state source, prompting questions about how the area will secure water for the dry months.
Zone 7 Water Agency, which sells water to nearby areas including the city of Pleasanton, has historically relied upon its membership with the State Water Project for the majority of its water supply. However, the four-year drought has limited that initiative's water resources since it draws water from the Sierra snowpack, which has been severely limited due to lack of snow during the drought.
The announcement is a sign that the Tri-Valley is not out of a drought yet, despite the December rains and the impending El Nino.
"No matter how hard it's raining, we need to remember to use water wisely and sparingly," said California Department of Water Resources director Mark Cowin in a statement. "Our historic drought has lasted for years and isn't going to be quickly washed away."
Zone 7 was notified earlier this month by the California Department of Water Resources, which manages the State Water Project, that it will only get 10% of the water it requested for 2016, the agency announced in a press release Monday. This leaves the agency on its own to make up the difference through pumping the local aquifer and through vigorous water conservation tactics the agency has used the past few years to stretch meager water supply.
The allocation from the State Water Project in 2015 was 20%, among the lowest allocations on record, according to Zone 7. In general, the initiative typically provides 80% of Zone 7's water.
Regional water retailers that buy potable water from Zone 7 have felt the tightening grip of reduced water supply, and some have begun to take steps to find other places from which to buy water.
Dublin San Ramon Services District, which buys from Zone 7, updated its water supply and conservation plan this fall to include an emphasis on diversifying its water supply so it can make sure it has enough water to meet residents' needs.
"We need to diversify our water supply so it is more reliable. Even with our robust recycled water system in place, the past two years have clearly demonstrated that depending on one source (the State Water Project) for two-thirds of DSRSD's water supply is not working," said DSRSD engineering services Manager Dan McIntyre in a statement when the district's water supply plan went out for public review.
Zone 7 general manager Jill Duerig said the state will provide updated allocation figures throughout the winter and spring based upon the measured snowpack in the Sierras. She said she expects Zone 7's allocation to increase by this spring.