Record snow leads to 100 percent water allocations for California farmers for first time in years

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Monday, April 24, 2023
Farmers receive 100% water allocations for first time in years
Record snow in recent months has led to 100 percent water allocations in California for the first time in years.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The California Department of Water Resources says its water allocation will be raised to one hundred percent across the state. It's the first time that's been possible since 2006.

Westlands Water District is also getting a 100 percent allocation through the Central Valley Project for the first time since 2017.

The district has served farmers and rural communities on the west side of Fresno and Kings counties for more than seven decades.

"Having one hundred percent allocation this year is a huge relief to many of our farmers," said Elizabeth Jonasson, the district's public affairs representative.

The positive news follows two years of zero percent allocations, so Westlands is not taking a single drop for granted.

"It's really important that with this water, we are able to store as much as possible and able to utilize it efficiently because we just don't know what the future will bring," said Jonasson. "If the drought is to continue next year or later this year, we hope to have some of this water stored."

Farmers we spoke to say they're glad to receive more water, although they wish they were told more water was coming sooner to plan the planting season more effectively.

But now, it's about planning how to use this extra allotment correctly.

"Some of this water, we'll save for next year. We're not gonna use it all this year, you know, we can't. It's just too much," said Alex Orosco, a farming water controller. "We'll save it for next year and hopefully the next year, in case it's not 100 percent, at least we can carry over into the new year."

Westlands says water infrastructure needs to be improved to be able to make the most of extremely wet seasons.

It has been working with landowners to recharge the Westside subbasin and says groundwater recharge is expected to increase in the coming weeks.