Water & Drought

Water allocation for westside growers is going to be a meager one for 2018

A below-average snowpack and rainfall is contributing to a conservative initial water allocation announcement by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Earlier this year, state officials conducted the year's first snow survey at Pillips Station on January 3, 2018. It measured 1.3 average inches of snow with 0.4” of water content at the site.
A below-average snowpack and rainfall is contributing to a conservative initial water allocation announcement by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Earlier this year, state officials conducted the year's first snow survey at Pillips Station on January 3, 2018. It measured 1.3 average inches of snow with 0.4” of water content at the site. Sacramento Bee file

With the threat of another drought looming, west San Joaquin Valley farmers received some dismal news Tuesday about this year’s water allocation.

The initial allocation from the Central Valley Project is 20 percent, the U.S Bureau of Reclamation announced on Tuesday.

Federal officials said the allocation is based on “a conservative estimate of the amount of water that will be available for delivery to CVP water users and reflects current reservoir storages, precipitation and snow pack in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada.”

What the allocation means is that west-side growers will get 20 percent of their contracted amount.

What a difference a year makes for water users.

2017 was the wettest on record for much of Northern California. Central Valley Project reservoirs were full for the first time in five years. But precipitation so far this year has been far below average.

The California Department of Water Resources reports that as of Feb. 15, the statewide average of snow-water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada was 4.3 inches, or 20 percent of the historical average, according to the bureau’s news release.

Rainfall is currently at approximately 60 percent of the historical average for the northern Central Valley. Fresno has received just 1.64 inches of rain so far this winter. By this time, the city would have normally gotten 7.04 inches.

For growers in the Friant Division, they will receive a 30 percent allocation of Class 1 supplies. The amount is based on Millerton Lake storage and current and forecasted hydrologic conditions in the upper San Joaquin River Basin.

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob

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