Continuing to shore up Southern California's imported water supplies for 2003, Metropolitan Water District exercised a second series of one-year water transfer options with seven Sacramento Valley water agencies.
Metropolitan called on a total of up to 50,000 acre-feet of water -- a total of about 16 billion gallons -- from River Garden Farms, Reclamation District No. 108 and the Pleasant Grove-Verona, Natomas Central, Sutter, Pelger and Meridian Farms mutual water companies.
Ronald R. Gastelum, Metropolitan's chief executive officer, said the transfers will help the district compensate for anticipated supply shortfalls from the State Water Project this year. The California Department of Water Resources current state project allocation is 45 percent of the project contractors' entitlements this year.
"Following through on these transfer options is consistent with our commitment to secure water management options that will help meet the needs of 18 million Southern Californians and the region's economy," Gastelum said.
"It also demonstrates our efforts to provide both local and statewide benefits through constructive north-south partnerships aimed at better managing California's water."
In exercising the $5 million in options, transferred water will be made available to Metropolitan primarily between May and September by idling rice acreage, shifting farming to less water-intensive crops and using groundwater instead of surface water to irrigate crops.
Peter Hughes, general manager of Natomas Central MWC, said the water transfer "shows that California's water agencies can work cooperatively together to manage water responsibly for the entire state.
"The water transfer protects the water rights and economy of the Sacramento Valley, while providing water supplies necessary for Southern California in an environmentally sensitive manner," Hughes said.
Metropolitan exercised an initial series of one-year options last month with Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Western Canal Water District and Richvale Irrigation District for a total of 97,200 acre-feet. In addition to the options exercised, Metropolitan has until May 1 to call on another option for 20,000 acre-feet from Placer County Water Agency.
Under the option agreements, Metropolitan pays the agricultural agencies $10 per acre-foot to secure the options. If the options are exercised, Metropolitan pays farmers an additional $90 per acre-foot for the transferred water.
Under the current DWR allocation, Metropolitan will receive 905,175 acre-feet in state project supplies in 2003. In normal years, Metropolitan can expect up to 1.5 million acre-feet of state project deliveries. An acre-foot of water is nearly 326,000 gallons, about the amount used by two typical Southern California families in and around their households in a year.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other water-management programs.