Water Delivery Begins for Some Valley Farmers

Fresno, CA While many farmers on the Valley's west-side still face a zero allocation of water, those on the east-side are faring much better. Some of them were finally able to irrigate their fields.

The sound of rushing water is music to the ears of Valley farmers. Through its 700 miles of open channels and pipes, the Fresno Irrigation District has begun delivering water to half the farmers in the district. Water from the Kings River is making its way from a canal to an irrigation ditch and eventually to Jerald Rebensdorf's Biola vineyard. Rebensdorf said "We need it now and give'em a good soaking."

The ground is thirsting for water. Soon the vines will be full of Thompson grapes destined to be raisins. Rebensdorf is glad to see the water running again, even if the delivery's late. He said "Usually we get about six months of water and this is the most critical time. April, May, June and July."

Without a steady flow of irrigation water Rebensdorf says this grape crop would suffer. He said "Well probably the quality is the biggest thing. Vines aren't as sensitive. Almonds are very sensitive to not having water"

At this point only farmers in the Biola, Kerman and Easton area are receiving water from the F.I.D. Other farmers will get their delivery in a few weeks. District Asst. General Manager Laurence Kimura said "What we're trying to do is hold the water back as long as possible so we can meet the growers' demands which is in the summertime."

While the Kings River water supply remains below average, Kimura says the district expects to provide water for a four-month season through July.

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