“Despite Friday’s bleak news for many Central Valley farmers, the federal tap will continue to flow to portions of San Joaquin County – albeit at a much lower rate.
“Officials announced Friday that the Stockton East Water District and the Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District will receive 55 percent of the amount of water called for in their contracts this year, barring big shifts in the weather.”
“The federal Central Valley Project on Friday made an unprecedented irrigation forecast — zero water this summer for 3 million acres in the Central Valley at the heart of the state’s $44 billion farm industry.
“Federal leaders blamed a record-setting drought for the potentially devastating cutback.
“Federal officials plan to announce Friday how much water they can release this year through a vast system of rivers, canals and reservoirs, but Central Valley farmers on the front lines of California’s historic drought expect to get little, if anything.
“San Joaquin Valley farmers are expecting devastating water news Friday — the worst-ever forecast for federal water delivery, reflecting the landmark dry season.
“Federal Central Valley Project leaders are expected to announce an unprecedented zero allocation for more than 2 million acres, spanning both east and west sides of the country’s most productive farmland.”
“Phillips [Lynn Phillips, general manager of the Sutter Extension Water District], like most water managers and farmers, is unsure about his water supply for 2014. Phillips is anticipating a 50 percent cut — the maximum possible — in the district’s water delivery from Lake Oroville, which irrigates about 20,000 acres.”
“After six years of construction, a momentous event is expected later this month at the new flood-control spillway being built at Folsom Dam: The steel flood-control gates – the mechanical heart of the project – will begin to arrive for installation.”
From Michael L. Connor, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation; William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region; and Ann Mills, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, USDA:
“The Obama Administration has been and continues to be committed to a comprehensive suite of actions necessary to promote a sustainable, reliable water supply to serve the people, the economy, and the environment of California.
“On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board announced a curtailment of all post-1914 water rights holders, which will affect about 500 water contracts in Yuba, Sutter and Colusa counties.
“Now, as water managers wait for those curtailment notices to arrive, the Bureau of Reclamation and other federal partners will announce additional responses to the drought at a press conference today in Sacramento.”
“West Valley farmers spent $150 million last year buying some water and storing it in San Luis Reservoir. They were planning ahead for a zero water allocation from the federal Central Valley Project this year.”
“In preparation for the Bureau of Reclamation’s initial water year 2014 water allocation announcement in late-February, Reclamation is providing information on water supply conditions for the federal Central Valley Project. Reclamation’s water year runs from October 1 to September 30; the contract year runs from March 1 to February 28.”
“With the state extremely dry, the farmers fear federal officials could effectively seize for other purposes the water set aside primarily in San Luis Reservoir on the valley’s west side. Affected farmers say that would be wrong. Unfortunately for them, it might also be legal.”
“California’s two behemoth water deliverers — the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, perhaps the best known water purveyors in the world – are poised to join together to move water quickly around the state in the face of an unprecedented drought.”