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Valley Growers Get Boost in Irrigation Deliveries, Cite Need for More Water Storage

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A photo of Shasta Dam in northern California
Shasta's 4.5 million acre-foot capacity represents the majority of Central Valley Project water storage. (Bureau of Reclamation)
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California cities and farmers that rely on the federal Central Valley Project for their water got welcome news on Tuesday.

The boost in water provided by the state’s relentless rains this winter and spring is allowing the Bureau of Reclamation to deliver 80% of contract allotments to many irrigation districts. That’s up from the previously announced 35%.

Providers for city and industrial uses will be allowed 100% of their historic use instead of just 75%, the bureau said.

Friant contractors will receive 100% of their Class 1 water and 70% of Class 2 water. The previously announced Class 2 allocation was 20%.

Down south, the Metropolitan Water District is bringing water from the north to fill its massive Diamond Valley Lake, a reservoir that had diminished to 60% of capacity after three years of drought. It’s expected to be full again by year’s end.

What They’re Saying

Jose Gutierrez, interim general manager, Westlands Water District: “We appreciate the Bureau of Reclamation’s time and effort to increase the water allocation and consider the changes in precipitation, reservoir storage levels, and snow water content in the Sierra that we’ve been blessed with since the initial allocation in February. For farmers and our Westside communities who have dealt with drought, and a 0% allocation these past two years, being in a position to have certainty of additional water supplies for the year to come will help them recuperate, hire and retain staff, and bolster their ability to continue feeding the world.”

Federico Barajas, executive director, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority: “Given the significant increases in reservoir storage and snowpack measurements, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority is pleased to see an increase in water allocations for Authority member agencies.

“Despite this positive news for this year’s allocations, the decades-long delay in investment in water storage and conveyance infrastructure has resulted in large volumes of water being uncaptured for use — water that has caused the devastating harm that many underserved communities have experienced from flooding impacts. Water storage and conveyance infrastructure has multiple benefits.”

Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford: “Today’s announcement is welcome news and a big relief to our family farms, local economies, and communities that have suffered from drought conditions, burdensome regulations, and below-adequate water allocations for years. Central Valley users deserve the water they contract and pay for, and we must ensure these allocations are not reduced as the water year progresses. We must maximize what can be moved through the Delta and cut red tape to build critical water storage infrastructure so our communities are more resilient to drought. Our ability to grow food for the nation will not survive without a reliable water supply for South-of-Delta agriculture.”

Metropolitan Water District General Manager Adel Hagekhalil: “Nature gave us a lifeline.”

(Associated Press contributed to this article.)

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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