California Drought Contingency Plan

The 2016 California Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), released by the Department of Water Resources, outlines potential Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) contractors water operations for February through November 2016. The DCP is a planning and implementation document that identifies strategies and actions state agencies should take to prepare for and respond to future droughts or other water shortage events. This state report demonstrates that conservation and preparedness will be essential to future water management in California.

The goals of the DCP are to:

- meet essential human health and safety needs, by supplying adequate water supplies throughout their service areas for drinking, sanitation, and fire suppression, as a first priority;

- manage the intrusion of salt water into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through operations of the CVP and SWP;

- provide and maintain adequate protections for State and Federal endangered and threatened species and other fish and wildlife resources; and

- seek and consider water management flexibilities to maximize the benefit of limited water supplies. 

The DCP is intended to become part of the California Water Plan Update process which occurs every five years. While this plan does not mandate specific actions for state agencies, responsibilities are outlined, and as such, we are loosely considering this an "agency guidance" document. Specifically, the potential roles and responsibilities of agencies and organizations which may be involved in drought management are defined in Attachment 1. State agencies participating in the Task Force are expected to function within existing agency authorities, responsibilities, and funding.

Section II, Initial Status of Conditions, describes:

Water Quality and Salinity (salinity in the western and central Delta reached record high levels in late November 2015 due to record low Delta inflow as a result of low rainfall in fall 2015);

Hydrology (Precipitation to date, Runoff, SWP and CVP Upstream Reservoir Storage, and Snowpack); and 

Biology (Salmonids, Delta smelt, Long-fin smelt, and Refuge water supply)

This plan will aid in quantifying the general magnitude of available reservoir water resources under various hydrologic scenarios. Attachment 1 provides the operational forecasts which are based on a model using 50%, 90% and 99% runoff forecasts based on the hydrologic conditions as they existed on January 1, 2016. These operational scenarios show the likely ranges of hydrology for potential future conditions, and the storage and flows associated with each scenario. 


Publication Date: January 15, 2016

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