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Central Valley Project members see much-needed increase in allocations

POSTED March 16, 2010 9:22 p.m.
Central Valley farmers will be granted additional water allocations for the growing season the Federal Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday.
The series of storms that soaked the Central Valley in February boosted the snowpack and precipitation levels up to a point where it was possible for the bureau to increase the annual allocations for Central Valley Project water contractors.
The increases won’t have a direct impact on local growers because their water supply is largely maintained by irrigation districts, but it will benefit farmers in Fresno County and the west side of the Central Valley that have been hit particularly hard by years of dry spells.
For farmers south of the Delta, the allocation increased to 25 percent of their contracts. Farmers north of the Delta will get 50 percent of their contracts. Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, farmers in both regions had been allocated only 5 percent of their contracts.
Municipal and industrial water service contractors north and south of the Delta will get 75 percent, up from 55 percent.
The Bureau of Reclamation typically releases allocation updates later in the month, but made Tuesday’s announcement at the urging of U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Congressmen Jim Costa and Dennis Cardoza.
“I am so pleased that the Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to release their updated water allocations a few weeks early so that farmers can start making more informed planting decisions,” Boxer said in a released statement. “Water supplies are still limited, but I am optimistic that allocations will continue to go up and that the other measures the Bureau is working on will provide additional relief to the human suffering on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.”
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a released statement that the bureau will work diligently with federal, state and local officials to secure additional water for the farmers south of the Delta, hoping to increase the allocations by another 8 to 10 percent.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext., 2002.

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