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Westside county farmers could see additional water allocation

Westside county farmers could see additional water allocation

If current weather patterns continue, California may have an "average" or better water year - meaning a 30 percent allocation to westside farmers.

POSTED February 26, 2010 10:15 p.m.
Central Valley Project water users received good news on Friday, as Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the Bureau of Reclamation’s initial water supply forecast is better than anticipated.
According to the report, snowpack and runoff forecasts are “significantly improved” over the past three years of drought conditions. If current weather patterns continue, the report says, California may have an “average” or better water year — meaning a 30 percent allocation to westside farmers.
Currently, however, the conservative runoff forecast shows a fourth consecutive drought year. Under this scenario, ag users both north and south of the Delta would receive just five percent allocations — in keeping with the State Water Project’s previously announced five percent allocation.
“While California’s water crisis is hardly over, the Bureau of Reclamation’s announcement today gives hope to our most drought-impacted farmers in the western San Joaquin Valley that they will be able to move forward this planting season,” Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said. “I appreciate the administration’s commitment to working with us to identify further actions we can take to improve water supplies and alleviate the suffering on the west side of the Valley.”
Regardless of the final allocation, which depends on future precipitation, the Bureau of Reclamation hopes to provide an additional eight to 10 percent allocation — or 150,000 to 200,000 acre feet of water — to farmers south of the Delta through a series of new initiatives spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is committed to using its resources to help farmers in the Central Valley,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  “Next week a team from USDA headquarters will go to California to work with local USDA staff from Rural Development, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency to ensure that our farm and community programs are ready to be deployed and to ensure our conservation programs will provide more water in the Valley over the long term.”
The Department of Agriculture is working to secure water from urban water suppliers in exchange arrangements, capture and use excess restoration flows in the Mendota Pool, and improve operations through more precise compliance with Old and Middle River flows by the Bureau of Reclamation and the State Water Project. Additional water transfers will also be made available from senior east side water users to the west side, over and above customary east to west side transfers, and additional pumping capacity will be authorized at Banks Pumping Plant by the U.S. Corps of Engineers during times that are not restricted by water rights permit conditions or environmental requirements.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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