Ag leaders disappointed with announced water allocations

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West side farmers in the Central Valley project hoped for the best but most were prepared for the worst. (KFSN)

The wet winter and healthy snowpack had many valley farmers hoping they would receive a decent water supply this year.

But west-side growers who rely on federal water won't get much. Last year they received zero allocation due to drought conditions, but on Friday word came that they will get just 5 percent.

Despite an above average rainy season, farmers on the Valley's west side won't get much relief from the US Bureau of Reclamation. Their initial Federal Water Allotment of 5 percent of normal was not well-received.

"I don't know that there are words that describe my reaction," ag commissioner Les Wright said. "It's just plain despicable."

Many people who live in western Fresno County rely on the work provided by agriculture, so a 5 percent allocation came as a big disappointment.

"What's going to happen to happen to all the jobs and all the people out in Firebaugh, Mendota, in Huron, Coalinga?" farmer Shaun Ramirez of Firebaugh wondered. "These are communities that have been producing better yields and more food than any other place in the nation."

This year we've seen flood releases from Shasta and Folsom dams in northern California because of all the snow.

Most of that water, though, doesn't make it to San Luis Reservoir and growers in the Westlands Water District.

"What's happening here in the Central Valley is all because of laws and regulations that have completely strangled the ability to move water through the delta," said Johnny Amaral with the water district.

Frustrated farmers hoped for a higher allotment because of this an El Nino year.

"The bigger question mark becomes are we even around for the long term at this point," Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen said. "Here we are on a closer to average year and we're looking at a 5 percent allocation. We can't survive on that."

Farmers who rely on federal water from Friant Dam fared slightly better. But growers said a 30 percent allocation would not be enough to recharge their groundwater supply.

Farmers who rely on federal water from Friant Dam fared slightly better, but growers say a 30 percent allocation is not enough to recharge their groundwater supply.

Related Topics:
droughtcalifornia wateragriculturefresno countyFresno County
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