California’s Department of Water Resources Tuesday announced that it had allocated only 5% of the water that State Water Project contractors had requested for 2010.

It is the first round of allocations, and it is the lowest initial allocation percentage since the State Water Project began delivering water in 1967.

Backers of the $11 billion water bond authorization on next November’s ballot wasted no time in using the announcement as a point of argument in favor of the bonds.

“This is further evidence that severe drought coupled with population growth has made it essential that we better store and move our fresh water throughout our state,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “I am encouraged that we are in a position to rebuild the system to withstand the drought situations so we are not forced to agonize over a clean, reliable water supply for future generations.”

The initial allocation is designed to be a very conservative estimate of what DWR expects it can deliver to water contractors in the next calendar year.

The previous low for an initial allocation was 10% in 1993, but that number was increased to 100% during the year as supply conditions improved.

The initial 2009 figure of 15% was increased to a final allocation of 40% in May.

Over the past 10 years, the average of final State Water Project allocations as a percentage of initial requests has been 68%. 

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