Date: Feb 26, 2010

Secretary Salazar: Five percent CVP water allocation, with "hope" to reach 30 percent if current precipation pattern holds, and maybe another 8 to 10 percent through administrative actions

IRVINE (February 26, 2010) - Tom Nassif, Western Growers' president and CEO, made the following statement regarding the announcement today by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior that the Central Valley Project (CVP) allocation of water to farms on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley will be only 5 percent of contracted deliveries but possibly higher based on precipitation and administrative actions:

"Farmers have to make business decisions for the year right now, but today's announcement – maybe five percent, maybe another eight to ten percent on top of that, but maybe 30 percent – only adds confusion to despair.

"We all hope a 'dry year' scenario that would result in a five percent allocation does not come true. The federal government today pointed out the obvious – that California is experiencing an average water year to date – and said if this condition continues the allocation could be as high as 30 percent. This goes to the heart of the problem: Because of the ESA-based biological opinions restricting delivery of water to farms and cities south of the Delta, it no longer matters very much if the state receives ample rain and snow since that water cannot be delivered where it is needed. Despite the fact that the largest federal storage reservoir, Shasta, is at nearly 100 percent of average storage for this time of year, the federal government still can only ‘hope’ that completion of an average water year will result in perhaps a one-third water allocation. An average water year that fills Shasta and the other reservoirs should result in something much closer to a 100 percent allocation, not ‘maybe 30 percent.'

"Secretary Salazar outlined several administrative actions today that might add eight to 10 percent to the allocation for farms on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. We appreciate his efforts and we will watch very closely to ensure that these administrative efforts deliver actual water results. In the meantime, farms and cities dependent on the Delta as a water conveyance facility need more focus on immediate actions to restore the Delta and restore adequate water supply reliability."

Western Growers is an 85-year-old agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship about half of the nation’s fresh produce.

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