Section 215 Water
The Bureau of Reclamation may soon announce the availability of Section 215 Water for South-of-Delta water service contractors. It is uncertain how long this temporary supply will be available because its availability depends on hydrologic conditions, meeting required regulatory fisheries actions, and project operations. Section 215 refers to a section in the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982 that defines temporary water supplies and allows non-storable water to be applied to lands otherwise ineligible to receive federal water. This water could become available if the operational export capabilities at Jones Pumping Plant exceed demands in the south of Delta service areas and the pumping capabilities of the Gianelli Pumping Plant at the San Luis Reservoir.
The District plans to take delivery of Section 215 Water and substitute it for deliveries made by water users in the District until Section 215 Water is discontinued by Reclamation. This decision could result in a credit to growers because Section 215 Water is less expensive than Interim Contract water. The amount of the credit could range from $20-$50 per acre-foot depending on the volume of Section 215 Water that is available to the District.
In addition, based on the amount of water remaining in water user accounts as of January 31, 2019 and current rate of use, it is likely that water users will lose water due to the Bureau of Reclamation’s cap on the amount of water that may be rescheduled into the 2019-20 Contract Water Year. The amount of water available to the District under the cap is anticipated to be about 165,000 acre-feet. The District projects that without an increase in demands between now and February 28 th , approximately 20,000 acre-feet will be lost due to the cap.
Water users that have the ability to do so are encouraged to increase use of surface water and refrain from using groundwater in order to avoid the risk of loss and enjoy the aforementioned Section 215 Water credit. If water users currently do not have water in their accounts, they should contact the District about the potential of using Section 215 Water.