Water Authority calls for increased allocations

The San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority say CVP contractors deserve greater allocations after “wettest year on record” 


LOS BANOS – The United States Bureau of Reclamation issued their updated allocation for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural water service contractors last week, and some are none-to-pleased. 

According to a statement issued by the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, new allocations for south-of-Delta CVP and municipal and industrial water service contractors were at 40% and 75% respectively. But the Water Authority adds the allocations are significantly less than reasonably could be made by Reclamation.

“Given current hydrological conditions, [these allocations] are inexplicable. The last hydrologic year, 2017, was the wettest year on record in the Sacramento River watershed, and presently, all CVP reservoirs are above their historic average,” the Authority’s statement read.

The Water Authority went on to say that with the abundance of water, 40% and 75% allocations reveal that regulations, not the availability of water, are creating supply shortages and impediments to the efficient operation of the CVP. 

“If the system cannot provide an adequate amount of water when water levels are above average, then clearly changes need to be made to the regulations governing the CVP,” said Jon Rubin, Interim Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

Rubin went on to add that the allocations this year are particularly harmful to communities served by CVP water because they depend on higher allocations in years of water abundance to offset lower allocations in dry years. 

“The state’s groundwater aquifers need to be replenished when supplies are available but that cannot happen if water deliveries are limited when surface water is available to deliver to farmers,” said Rubin.

Rubin called on Reclamation and other federal agencies to reevaluate their decision-making process given the fact that the restrictive operations of the CVP have been counterproductive for all uses of water, including for environmental purposes. 

“The federal government continues to report a decline in fish populations. Communities served by the CVP have received progressively lower allocations which has impacted groundwater and water quality. And, farmers have been forced to fallow land and cut food production due to the uncertainly around water deliveries,” the statement says.

Congressman Jim Costa issued a statement over the water allocation amount on Sunday, April 22. He concurred with the Water Authority that the Bureau of Reclamations allocation and timing has put growers in a pinch when it comes to their business.

“The delayed announcement, coupled with the partial water allocations in a year where California has been blessed with record rainfall is simply unacceptable,” Costa said. “Farmers are in the middle of planting season. They are assessing their resources, meeting with their bankers, and applying for business loans. This delayed water allocation announcement hinders farmers’ ability to plant crops and sign contracts, which affects their bottom line and ultimately impacts California’s agriculture industry and our nation’s food supply.”

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