One of the big lessons water agencies learned from the drought this year was to maintain curtailments earlier and longer. Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth told reporters on Thursday the state expects conservative allocations from the State Water Project to last through at least spring for next year.

Typically, the agency begins the water year with conservative estimates in December and by spring has more certainty in the water availability. This year, however, showed that snowpack can quickly disappear on the journey to reservoirs in mid-spring—an event never experienced before in California.

“We now include that as part of our planning parameters,” said Nemeth. “That's going to help us make some front-end, more conservative decisions.”

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She explained that this will largely affect growers with senior water rights. The department is collaborating with the Bureau of Reclamation to establish an earlier and more intensive schedule through June for the Central Valley Project as well, she said.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said this pre-planning is going to be critical for preventing crops from going into the ground and using that water in other ways.