The California Department of Water Resources announced a sizable increase in the State Water Project (SWP) allocation for 2024 on Friday, an optimistic sign for the 27 million Californians who rely on the project for their water supply.

SWP is the state’s water management system — a massive network of reservoirs, canals and dams that supplies 29 urban and agricultural water suppliers, located in Northern California, San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast, and Southern California. Urban areas receive 70% of SWP’s supply, and agriculture receives 30%.

Now, the state has increased its forecasted allocation to 30% of requested supplies for those south of the Delta (the majority of water users) up from a 15% allocation update announced last month. It announced a 50% allocation of requested supplies for those north of the Delta.

Officials based this decision on spring runoff forecasts and snowfall measurements, which have risen after February's slew of storms. As of Friday, statewide snowpack was 98% of historical average.

Image via California Data Exchange Center.

Water managers have been focused on maximizing the capture and storage of water from this winter’s storms, as well as improving the system’s infrastructure to adapt to the changing climate and extreme weather, according to an SWP press release.

At the same time, the federal Central Valley Project also announced increases to its delivery estimates. Managers said they expected an increase of water deliveries from 75% of requested supplies to 100% for those north of the Delta, and an increase from 65% to 75% for those south of the Delta, per KPIX.

Allocations are updated every month, and vary depending on assessments of snowpack, rainfall, and runoff. A final allocation typically determined in May or June following the April Snow Survey, per SWP. Currently, state reservoirs are full to levels 115% compared to historical averages, with Lake Oroville, SWP’s largest reservoir, at 125%.

Feature image of drone view of water levels at Lake Oroville on Jan. 30, 2024. On this date, the water storage was 77% of the total capacity. Via CA Department of Water Resources.