California Farmers Upset Over Water Allocations
This week the Bureau of Reclamation announced the 2017 water allocations for California farmers and many groups are upset over the long-awaited announcement. According to the release, farmers south of the state’s main water hub would only receive 65 percent of their allotted water from the Central Valley Project. Meanwhile, other regions are receiving their full water allotments and the state is currently at 199 percent of seasonal average rainfall thanks to recent storms.
The Bureau’s decision gave west-side farmers the smallest allocation of any deliveries this year. While farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are last in line under a complex system of water rights, officials also said they must weigh a multitude of factors including reservoir storage levels, hydrological conditions, and requirements to protect endangered species.
These farmers haven’t received 100 percent of their allocation since 2006, receiving none of their deliveries in 2014 and 2015 and only 5 percent last year. But while farmers on the west side note that this allocation is far better than they’ve seen in recent years, it still speaks to the issues plaguing California’s water infrastructure. Farming interests are calling for more water storage and other measures to increase long-term deliveries. On the other hand, Central Valley Project officials argue that it’s not regulations limiting deliveries but rather the plumbing.
Along with the allocation, the Bureau of Reclamation continues to urge users to rely more on their CVP deliveries and less on groundwater, which has been causing land to subside in the Central Valley; however, agricultural representatives have said that 65 percent allocation approaches the unbelievable, especially given the amount of water available in the system. Thus, farmers will still have to rely on groundwater this year.