Zone 7 Water Agency announced last week that an increased water allocation of 15% will be given for this year from the State Water Project, up from the initial 0% given by state officials last month.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) informed SWP contractors about the change on Jan. 20. Officials from Zone 7, the Tri-Valley's water wholesaler, said in a statement that the increase "provides much-needed relief after the two driest years combined on record."
Approximately 70% of the region's water is bought and imported through the SWP. Last year, Zone 7 received 5% of its allocation and has been relying on the groundwater basin, which holds imported water during wet years that Zone 7 then uses during dry years.
Storms that took place in October and December have since allowed about 380,000 acre-feet of water to be transferred into the San Luis Reservoir, located south of the Delta.
"While this increase in allocation offers some reprieve, it is important to keep our eyes on the ball," General Manager Valerie Pryor said. "This does not mean we are out of the severe drought by any means."
With the Tri-Valley already having dry conditions in January, Pryor said "we don't know what the rest of the year has in store," and that residents "must continue to conserve as we proactively plan for a third dry year."
Mandatory 15% conservation is still in effect locally, and residents are asked to continue reducing their water usage by decreasing outdoor irrigation, which accounts for approximately 60% of household water consumption, according to Zone 7 officials.
Customers of California Water Service, Dublin San Ramon Services District, and the cities of Livermore and Pleasanton are advised to check Zone 7's drought page at www.zone7water.com/drought for the latest drought information and city-specific water use restrictions.