Central Valley

State revives 'water bank' program to battle drought

SACRAMENTO — With the state mired in a drought, state water officials today said they would restart a water transfer program not used since the early 1990s.

The Department of Water Resources will act as broker to help growers and cities in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California buy water from willing sellers upstream of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The “drought water bank” will not take effect until next year’s growing season — and even then is likely only to be used as a worst-case safety net should the state not emerge from the two-year drought.

“We’re hoping for the best, that we’re going to have a good storm season and we’re going to be able to meet the needs of California,” said Lester Snow, director of the water department. “However, we would be negligent if we didn’t prepare for the worst.”