West Side Growers To Get Water

April 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's a small measure of relief for growers on the West side of the Central Valley.Michael Jackson, of the Federal Bureau of Reclamation says there's now enough water to give those growers a small break. "So now with the increased snowpack and a little bit of bump from the additional precipitation in March and whatnot we are at this point able to allocated a ten per cent supply." Jackson said.

Growers like Dan Errotabere say, ten percent is better than the nothing they had been expecting. "We're lifting off zero, but it certainly is a very low supply relative to the needs of our crops." Errotabere said.

The Westland's Water District covers about half a million acres of land on the Valley's West side. More than half of that, land which grows everything from Cotton and tomatoes to lettuce and almonds has been idled because of a lack of water this year.

The water they do get comes from reservoirs in the Northern part of the state. Those reservoirs, like Lake Shasta have been filled with a surge of snowmelt, competing demands, from environmental mitigations, and wildlife refuges take precedent over Westland's needs.

Westland's attorney Sarah Woolf says it's frustrating for growers. "Our position would be that the wildlife refuges in historical times would suffer if there were drought conditions just as the farmers would. "

In good years Westland's receives about 50 to 65 percent of its allocations. In dry years like this, with only ten percent, the growers, and an estimated 40,000 unemployed farm workers feel the pain.

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