Feds relent on water holdout
By Paul Myers
tulare county – Farmers have already made decisions on what to do with 65% of their water allocation. Therefore it was bittersweet news to hear that the Federal Bureau of Reclamations decided to issue 100% of farmers’ full allocation.
Since the 100% allocation news, the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority issued a statement noting that the announcement was welcomed, but ill timed.
“The increased allocation is appreciated, however the timing of the announcement comes after many planting decisions have been made. Many factors tie Reclamation’s hands including a web of over 15 federal, state and local agencies that have led to a broken system that fails to work well for anyone,” as stated in the press release.
Last month state representatives that included Senator Andy Vidak, Senator Jean Fuller, and Assemblyman Devon Mathis issued a letter to United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, telling him that there is little reason to withhold water.
“The central and southern Sierra readings are 49.0 inches, 191 percent of average, and 46.4 inches, 201 percent of average respectively,” read the letter to the secretary. “Given the amount of water in the water system, we believe all Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors should receive a 100% allocation of water for 2017.”
“The Valley is disappointed that with all the rain we got this year the lords at the Bureau of Reclamation will only provide us peasants with 65% of the water that is needed,” stated Senator Vidak in a separate press release.
In addition, the letter notes that during the years of drought, contractors received 20% in 2013, zero percent in 2014 and 2015, and then only 5% despite normal rainfall in 2016. And politicians are not the only ones weighing in on the topic. The California Farm Water Coalition executive director Mike Wade issued a statement on the matter as well.
“While nature has provided an abundant supply in this record-breaking year and dams continue to be managed for flooding constraints, the broken bureaucratic system is not only unable to deliver full contract amount, but now comes so late that farmers are left scrambling to make planting decision,” Wade said. “If this is the best that can be done in the wettest year on record, what can future average and dry years hold?”
The San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority issued a statement last month as well. Largely corroborating Wade’s point, the authority notes that farmers and disappointed to learn of their 65% allocation in a year where the state experienced 200% of normal rain fall.
“While the drought remains fresh in everyone’s minds, one would think a record breaking 2017 should result in abundant supplies for Californians to grow food, recharge groundwater, and take regular showers again,” stated the Authority’s press release.