California’s 2014 Drought Plans


ComNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

California’s three-year drought leaves the state with few options in managing the crisis.

With California being in its third year of a severe drought, a variety of administrations responded and issued the Central Valley Project and State Water Project  Drought Operations Plan and Operational Forecast based on the state’s water supply.

The departments involved include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation,) California Department of Water Resources (DWR,) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS,) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS,) California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW,) and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board.)

The plan, effective April 1 to November 15, is still being changed, but it aims to conserve water for essential human needs, preserve reservoirs and protect wildlife.

To conserve water in reservoirs, flow schedules have been lowered in the upper Sacramento River, Trinity River, Clear Creek, Lake Shasta and Keswick reservoir.

Because of Keswick’s salmonids (a family of fish) and usability in case of extreme drought, Keswick will face the largest change. It will release no more than 3,500 cfs (cubic feet per second) of water, will not increase water release  to aid Sacramento Delta diversions, and will no longer deliver water for rice straw decomposition. Reclamation and DWR are now consulting the State Water Board  in an attempt to limit releases of Keswick and will continue to change the operations monthly.

Folsom Lake, the American River, New Melones and Stanislaus River will begin using pulse flows (varying the pressure of the water flow) and vary the flow schedules based on their conditions.

Although many older provisions, such as D‐1641, for the Delta are still being practiced, the plan implemented NMFS RPA Action IV.2.1 for the Delta this April and May. This provision will allow more release of the natural and abandoned flows underutilized in normal circumstances in the Delta. It will also demand a 5-day warning to wildlife groups in the case that DCC gates must be opened.

In June through November, three emergency drought barriers are planned to be built in three main locations of the Delta. The barriers will be constructed starting May 7 in West False River, Steamboat Slough and Sutter Slough.

To protect fish, the plan will be working throughout the year to study effects on fish in reservoirs and develop emergency plans to minimize any harm. The plan will monitor extraordinary fish as necessary, develop a contingency plan for the Winter-Run Chinook salmon at Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery, monitor and study fish for effects of environmental factors, and study anadromous fish. With this information they will be better able to make decisions in future droughts.

Click to access 2014-Operations-Plan.pdf