Agriculture · Highlight

Reclamation raises westside water allocation to 65%

The Bureau of Reclamation revised its allocation for south-of-the-Delta Central Valley Project contractors on Wednesday, raising the allocation to 65 percent, a 10-percent increase.

Wednesday’s hike is the second of 2019. In mid-March, Reclamation raised the allocation for westside farmers from 35 percent to 55 percent of their contracted amount.

“This announcement begs the question, what has to happen before south-of-Delta farmers served by the Central Valley Project can get a full supply?” WestlandsWater District general manager Tom Birmingham said in a statement released after Reclamation’s announcement.

“This has been a great year for California’s water supply,” said Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant. “The increased precipitation has allowed us to increase the amount of water we allocate to our South-of-Delta contractors.” 

Municipal and industrial water users south-of-the-Delta also saw a 10-percent increase to 80 percent.

In a release announcing the increase, Reclamation saddled a number of challenges to explain why westside growers – especially those within Westlands Water District – were not receiving 100% allocation when most of the Central Valley Project contractors were.

“Even in above average water years, threatened and endangered species’ requirements, storage limitations and lost conveyance capacity from land subsidence pose challenges on Reclamation’s ability to export water South-of-Delta,” the bureau’s release said.

Tom Birmingham jumped on those environmentally-driven restrictions.

“Notwithstanding the restrictions imposed by the biological opinions, Westlands firmly believes that there is sufficient water to allocate to south-of-Delta agricultural water services contractors 100%,” Birmingham said. “Today’s announcement by Reclamation is disappointing for every south-of Delta farmer served by the CVP, and we hope Reclamation will increase the allocation quickly to enable farmers to quit pumping groundwater.”

The San Joaquin Valley Sun
Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.

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