Agriculture

Amid Valley’s Monday downpour, drought relief is flushed out to the Pacific. Here’s how much left.

As communities across the Valley floor and in the Sierra Nevada foothills braved a single-day downpour on Monday, the hope for a one-hit wonder to push back the state’s dreadful drought impacts, admittedly, far-fetched.

One only needs to look as far as the ever-critical Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for answers as to why.

Between Sunday and Monday, roughly 50,582 acre feet of water flowed into the Delta, the critical lynchpin of much of the state’s water infrastructure, per a daily report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

But how much left the Delta headed for the Pacific Ocean? According to the same report, 86,887 acre feet of water, with 71,424 acre feet pouring out on Monday alone.

The Monday outflow figure was roughly 10 times the average daily outflow from the Delta over the course of October.

86,887 acre feet of water seems like a lot, but is it?

Look no further than Kettleman City, the Kings County tourist stop along Highway 41 and Interstate 5 and home to a heavily-impoverished community of farmworkers on the verge of running out of water.

In recent weeks, Kettleman which has had its plea for minimum water supplies for its residents and local tourist-centric economy rejected by state regulators, requested 310 acre feet of water for 2021.

The two-day exodus of water from the Delta could supply Kettleman City with the its minimum needs of water to sustain its population and economy for 280 years.

Even in a larger municipality, such as the City of Fresno – home to 537,100 residents and thousands of businesses, could have the outbound 86,887 acre feet cover nearly 75 percent of its needs for a single year.

A preliminary report on Tuesday previews even heavier flows to the Pacific ahead, with 74,221 acre feet flowing into the Delta on Tuesday alone.

As for what percentage of that is flowing out to the Pacific Ocean? We’ll see.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.