Agriculture

Feds bump up supplies for Friant water users

Months after crying foul over a diversion of water resources, it appears that water agencies reliant on Friant Dam will see a boost in water supplies, Federal water officials announced on Friday.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation raised allocation to Class 1 contractors within the Friant Division of the Central Valley Project from 15 to 20 percent.

Class 2 Friant contractors have not received an allocation for two straight years. The trend, Federal officials announced, will continue for the time being.

The announcement by the Bureau comes three months after the agency began releasing water from Millerton Lake to aid the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors, those who exchanged Sacramento River rights for historic rights on the Kings and San Joaquin rivers.

The move enraged officials with the Friant Water Authority, the umbrella representatives for a sizable number of Valley communities and agricultural water districts, which delivered a broadside to the Bureau’s strategic decisionmaking at the time.

“One day, Californians will wake up to realize that they didn’t sacrifice farms to save fish – they lost both,” the local water agency said in April.

Friday, Friant sung a different tune on the news that Class 1 contractors would see buoyed water supplies from Federal officials.

“The increase in the Class 1 allocation is a welcome change, especially given other challenging conditions in the Friant Division, such as the deliveries of water supplies from Millerton Lake to the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors that began on April 1,” Friant Water Authority said in a statement.

“As those deliveries ramp down, it increases our certainty that the remaining water in Millerton Lake can be allocated to the Friant Contractors. Based on current reservoir levels and forecasts, it appears that there may be an opportunity to increase the Class 1 allocation to 30% if no additional water in Millerton is required by the Exchange Contractors. FWA is optimistic that today’s revised allocation is the first step towards achieving that number.”

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