Farmers face dismal water outlook

Overnight showers weren't enough to impact the state water supply.
November 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Overnight showers weren't enough to impact the state water supply. On Wednesday the Department of Water Resources announced just a 5% allocation for contractors in the State Water Project, which includes farmers in Kings and Kern counties.

Warm sunny skies replaced the storm clouds which quickly blew through the valley. The 5% water allocation was disappointing though not a surprise.

Sarge Green of the California Water Institute said, "Well the buckets are all empty up and down the state and so we don't have much we can allocate yet."

Green said the DWR based its decision on low water levels like those seen at San Luis Reservoir.

Farmers need water to grow crops and places like China Peak ski resort need snow to open for business.

Green said, "5% sounds terrible for the State Water Project but the Bureau of Reclamation is more conservative in some respects and will not allocate water they do not have."

That doesn't bode well for growers in the Westlands Water District on the Valley's west side.

Gayle Holman of Westlands said, "We will anticipate receiving our initial water allocation somewhere around mid-February but this is a very good indicator for us that we are not far off the mark when we are anticipating a zero percent water allocation."

Holman said as much as 250-thousand acres of farmland could go unplanted this season because of a low water allocation. She added, "Unfortunately we're making history in the wrong directions. We're breaking records of low water allocations."


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