Westside farmers receiving 100 percent of water allocations for the first time in nearly a decade

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2017 turned out to be one of the wettest years and the Bureau of Reclamation acknowledged that. (KFSN)

If you are searching for evidence of the drought look no further than the types of crops Dan Errotabere grows on his 5,200 acre farm.

"It ranges from one acre foot of water here, to two acres for tomato and garlic."

Garbanzo beans now replace vast fields of wheat; it's a high value crop that uses relatively little water. But even so, 20-percent of Errotabere farm lies fallow; the result after years of little water allocation.

"We always have to go with the best guess, and after four years of drought we weren't sure if this year would be a drought of what."

But 2017 turned out to be one of the wettest years and the Bureau of Reclamation acknowledged that. On Tuesday, they restored allocation for Westside farmers to 100 percent; but growers say the announcement was too late.

"While we are extremely grateful we have 100-percent, it comes so far into the planting season that it's hard for our growers to take advantage of it," said Gayle Holman, Westlands Water District.

Farmers said they plan for the worst every fall, knowing it's better to keep land fallow than to invest in crops only to have them die after a dry winter

"If I don't deliver the crops that year that I promised, then I won't have a relationship with that processor," said Errotabere.

Errotabere said environmental regulations and a lack of storage means little of this water will be carried over next year. That means his crops will most likely be subject to the same uncertainty whether or not it's a wet or dry year.
Related Topics:
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