Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CVP allocation for San Joaquin will likely rise, officials say

In a media call today, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said their 65 percent initial allocation for western San Joaquin Valley farmers will likely rise to at least 80 percent, and maybe more, as the season goes along.

Asked whether it is possible for the valley to ever receive 100 percent again amid today's environmental regulations, the officials said it is. But this year was preceded by five years of drought, which left little water to be carried over.

Farm groups aren't happy. From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
After the federal Central Valley Project reported today it expects to deliver only 65 percent of contract water supplies to its agricultural water contractors south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said the announcement shows how operation of the state’s water system remains in need of an overhaul.

“In the alternate universe of California water, we can have floods, full reservoirs and a huge snowpack and still not have full water supplies. It boggles the mind,” Wenger said.

“Operation of our water system remains out of whack. We need to continue efforts to improve and expand the system,” he said. “In Congress, passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act last year marked an important step in addressing the system’s inadequacies. Congress must now follow through with measures such as Rep. David Valadao’s Gaining Responsibility on Water Act, which would offer longer-term ability to store and move water.”

Wenger said farmers and ranchers will also press Congress to modernize endangered-species laws, “to balance the goals of environmental restoration with the ability to provide the resources needed to grow food and farm products.”

At the state level, he said, California must move as quickly as possible to invest money from the Proposition 1 water bond into storage projects that provide the state with more ability to store water in wet winters such as this.

“Improved storage capacity, both above and below ground, is crucial to California’s long-term ability to withstand droughts, protect against floods and gain the flexibility needed to allow people and the environment to thrive,” Wenger said.
From Western Growers:
In response to the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation’s initial water allocation announcement of 65% today for farmers south of the Delta served by the federal Central Valley Project, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:

“With record-level precipitation and flooding, and fear of more to come, a 65 percent Central Valley Project initial water allocation for farmers south of the Delta defies logic. While an improvement over the zero to five percent allocations of the past three years, the stark reality is inescapably obvious: Regulatory actions are depriving farmers and millions of Californians dependent on the farm economy of their livelihoods. Populations of the fish species these actions purportedly protect have not recovered, yet this year federal and state agencies will again redirect massive amounts of water out to sea while shorting farmers. Meanwhile, local water managers are struggling to create plans that comply with a state groundwater management law that prohibits excess pumping of groundwater while their main supply of water to recharge those basins continues to be throttled down.

“It is time for California to get serious about the building of additional storage capacity, as directed by the voters in approving the 2014 water bond. It is equally important for our elected officials to work with the appropriate government agencies to remove the punitive and unjustified regulatory chains jeopardizing the future of thousands of California farmers and the economic and social vitality of millions of our fellow Californians.”
Watch for my follow-up story at CapitalPress.com.

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