Federal water project to deliver only 30% to central California

02/22/2012 04:01:00 PM
By The Grower Staff

Central Valley canalVicky BoydThis year, Califoria Central Valley canals may not be as full due to a forecast 70 percent reduction in federal water deliveries.The federal Bureau of Reclamation issued its initial water delivery forecast for California's Central Valley, and it is a mixture of good and bad news.

Water service contractors south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta will receive 30 percent of contract amounts, according to a news release.

The Bureau of Reclamation operates the Central Valley Project, a series of dams and canals stretching from Redding to nearly Bakersfield.

The allocation announcement applies to water users south of a line stretching through about Stockton.

Thomas Birmingham, general manager of the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, called the amount disappointing in light of the near-record amount of water in reservoir storage carried over from 2011.

But he also said the 30 percent was "outstanding" after four and one-half months of exceptionally dry conditions.

The 30 percent also must be considered good compared with smaller amounts announced in recent years.

In the short term, Birmingham says farmers may idle thousands of acres of land.

Even if next year's precipitation returns to near-normal amounts, growers may still face reduced allocations.

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