Datatech – Fresno, California – We’ve been watching what the experts are saying about California’s wet winter and the federal water allocations for contracted users. On the surface, you’d think agriculture users should get 100 percent of their federal water allocations, it was reported that users would get 65 percent of their contracted allocations. This hit a nerve with ag users, but issues in infrastructure for south of the Delta water releases have emerged along with legal restrictions.
According to Jay Lund, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the University of California – Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences, was quoted in a recent article by Water Deeply saying, “Damage to the Clifton Court Forebay at San Luis Reservoir and lack of south-of-Delta storage (or conveyance to storage) are likely to keep this record-wet year from becoming a record Delta export year. Recent SWP and CVP water allocations are not yet at 100 percent for all contractors, but will likely increase, and seem limited mostly by conveyance and storage infrastructure this year. But for water users statewide, it is a welcome very wet year nonetheless.”
That’s one set of issues. The other is the Endangered Species Act which protects Delta Smelt. Experts say that it will be impossible to provide users 100 percent allocations even in the wettest years due to legal restrictions placed on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps for this creature. Central Valley west side water users are still being left in the lurch in an extremely wet water year.
On the snowpack front, March 30 was the most recent snow survey, Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, conducted DWR’s survey at Phillips and said, “The storm track shifted away from California during March, but we still have a very substantial snowpack, particularly in the higher elevations in the central and southern Sierra. This is an extremely good year from the snowpack standpoint,” he said, adding that this year’s snowpack ranks in the upper quarter of historic snowpacks and is providing “great reservoir recovery.”
So while ‘great reservoir recovery’ is being seen, it seems that even in the wettest of years and with renewed movement on attempts to increase water storage and conveyance in Sacramento, agriculture still needs a break on the waterfront, to stop erosion of its position as being a provider of produce and food for the world.
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