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March 4, 2015

Feds to Farmers: Zero Percent Initial Water Allocation

Yesterday, the Bureau of Reclamation — managers of California’s Central Valley Project (CVP) — announced an initial zero percent water allocation for farmers and cities in the San Joaquin Valley following California’s driest year in recorded history.  The zero percent allocation could increase and will be reviewed monthly by as we move deeper into the current water year. 

The drought conditions are exacerbated by ESA-based biological decisions that continue to restrict the delivery of water to farms and cities south of the Delta.  Even when winter storm events provided opportunities to capture additional runoff, federal and state regulations have required much of the runoff to flow out to sea.         

Western Growers continues to press for action by Congress to mandate more reasonable policies.  It is imperative that Congress pass legislation to end the unreasonable implementation of ESA rules that force project operators to miss windows of opportunity even in the midst of drought.  Opportunities to store and deliver water to areas of the state where it’s needed have been once again lost.

If the initial zero percent water allocation announced by the Central Valley Project (CVP) holds firm through the current water year, it will mark an unprecedented event for water deliveries in California – a second straight year of no federal water for Valley farmers. 

News was slightly better for farmers receiving State Water Project water as the California Department of Water Resources increased SWP allocations to 20 percent from 15 percent previously announced.