Mar 16, 2019
FRESNO, CA – Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that the water allocation for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural water contractors has been increased from 35 percent to 55 percent. The increase is an improvement for the farmers and farmworkers in the Westlands Water District, but, given the healthy hydrological conditions throughout the state, today’s announcement is a disappointment.
For years, we have been told that the farmers served by south-of-Delta ag service contractors received water allocation reductions due to water shortages. But this year, water is abundant, which is why today’s announcement is so frustrating. A 55 percent allocation, during a year with snowpack and reservoir levels well above average, further illustrates the extent to which CA’s water supply system is broken and how important it is that we find long-term solutions to problems plaguing the water delivery system in California.
As of today, Lake Shasta is at 85 percent capacity and 111 percent of its historical average. San Luis Reservoir is at 99 percent capacity and 113 percent of its historical average. Yet, despite the availability of water, the rigid regulatory constraints imposed on operations of the CVP continue to prevent Reclamation from making a common-sense water management decisions.
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Westlands Water District is the largest agricultural water district in the United States, made up of more than 1,000 square miles of prime farmland in western Fresno and Kings Counties. Under federal contracts, Westlands provides water to 700 family-owned farms that average 875 acres in size.
Breaking! Central Valley Project water users receive an increased water allocation. For farmers in the delta and northern California, their allocation will be 100\%. For farmers south of the delta and in the Central Valley, their allocation will be 55\%. Remember, CVP water is our federal water, not our state water. It comes from federal reservoirs like Shasta, whereas state water comes from reservoirs like Oroville. Northern CA is 154\% of snow-water content average for today, while the Central Valley is 162\% of normal. While any increases are welcomed, in a heavy precip year like this, there should not be an instance where farmers are forced to turn to running well pumps for irrigation. This should be a year where groundwater gets a break from pumping.