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California Central Valley Farmers Won't Get Full Water Supply

Curtis Jerome Haynes
San Luis Reservoir is one of the main reservoirs of the Central Valley Project. Photo taken May 2014.

Farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley won’t be receiving a full supply of water from the federal Central Valley Project despite the wet winter.

The US Bureau of Reclamation says those growers in the sprawling agricultural district will only receive 65 percent of their requested water.

It could increase based on snow melt later this spring. But the low amount is not what farmers were hoping for. 

“That is far better than what we’ve seen in recent years but it still really speaks to how far out of whack our water infrastructure is and how it has not kept up with current times,” says Danny Merkley with the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Merkley says the Central Valley Project wasn’t designed to capture water from the flashier storms that California is experiencing.

He also blames what he calls inflexible rules to protect endangered fish.

The bureau says water from previous years is being stored in one of the project’s major reservoirs, which is affecting this year’s allocation. Last year, westide growers received just 5 percent of their requested water. 

Cities and farms that are north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will receive all of their water supply. Cities south of the Delta that depend on the Central Valley Project will receive a 90 percent allocation.

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