Farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta got some good news this week. For the first time since 2006 farmers and ranchers who buy water from the federal Central Valley Project will have a full water supply. The Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday they will increase deliveries from the 65 percent forecast in late February to 100 percent.
“Following the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) exceptional March 30 snow survey results, Reclamation is pleased to announce this increase to a 100 percent allocation for our South-of-Delta water contractors,” says Acting Regional Director Pablo Arroyave in a press release Tuesday. At the end of March DWR announced an average statewide snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada of 45.8 inches, or 164 percent of the historical average for March 30 (27.9 inches).
“However, as Governor Brown reminded us last week when lifting California’s drought state of emergency, the next drought could be around the corner," Arroyave says. "It is crucial that we remain vigilant in conserving our precious water resources.”
The full allocation is huge for water leaders like Johnny Amaral. He represents farmers on the west side of the Valley for Westlands Water District.
"It's good news, especially for those that have permanent crops and other high value crops like that," says Amaral.
But he says since the allocation came so late in the growing season farmers won't be able to utilize all of that water.
"There's not going to be land or crop to irrigate because it's come so late. It's not because farmers don't want to. Clearly, they want to. That's what they do. In order for this to work the allocation has to come much earlier.”
He says some farmers will grow additional crops and water not used will hopefully be stored in places like the San Luis Reservoir for irrigating crops next year. He also says the allocation may help replenish the region's groundwater supply.