Lack of snow in mountains impacting agricultural operations in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Pictures from space say it all. Around this time last year, there was plenty of snow in the Sierra Nevada.

This year, there's not much to speak of.

As of February 19, snowpack in the Sierra ranged from 47 to 58 percent of normal.

The deficit of snow in the mountains is impacting agricultural operations in the Valley.

Last week, the Fresno Irrigation District announced they would delay water deliveries to their agricultural customers, storing the supply in local reservoirs until they decide to release it.

"We just got a recent report from the state, or DWR, Department of Water Resources, that says that the King River watershed area, the snowpack is currently at 58-percent, so what that results in is far below average, which is resulting in why we can't start on March 1," Says FID GM Bill Stretch.

Last year's surplus of snow let the district start deliveries in February.

Stretch says they'll reassess this much dryer situation in a few weeks and hope for more storms in the meantime.

"As of right now, though, just looking where we stand today, what I see in the next few weeks, I would say any deliveries in the next few weeks, I would say any deliveries in April is doubtful," Stretch said.

Stretch says delivery delays, which translates to a shorter irrigation season, is nothing new for their longtime growers.

When they can't use surface water, they turn to their wells.

And thankfully, the district says they have been able to replenish the groundwater supply for their customers in recent wet years.

"So during the past three years, when we brought in those extra supplies, we saw an increase in our groundwater levels by three feet, and that's a really good thing and it's a benefit to our growers, to the cities of Fresno, Clovis and the communities that lie within FID," Stretch said.
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