Friant Farmers Now Get 50 Percent
On April 21 the Bureau of Reclamation announced an increased allocation to the Friant Division contractors of Class 1 water supply from 40 to 50 percent. That’s up from 30% announced April 1,revised April 11 to 40%. That adds up to 400,000 acre-feet compared to zero water delivered last year. Add to that 100,000 acre-feet being released now through the end of the month to vacate the dam to make room for for snow melt. On top of that Reclamation has made available 85,000 acre-feet of water that had been reserved for restoration runs down the river but has been canceled this year. In their announcement the Bureau says “Class 1 supply will continue to be reassessed at weekly intervals until further notice.” Steve Ottemoeller, Friant Water Resource Manager says he expects the allocation will continue to be increased based on improved hydrological conditions in the upper San Joaquin watershed. Overhanging whether local farmers get a full allotment this year is whether Reclamation can deliver enough water from north of the delta to meet the Exchange Contractors requirements.”The Bureau is holding back 200,000 acre-feet of Friant water if they need to supply the Exchange Contractors needs in June.Right now that group of growers is being supplied from water pumped south but only using one pump at 1000cfs to protect fish in the delta. Ottemoeller notes that northern California wet weather with little pumping south means that some” 7 million acre-feet has headed out to the ocean” so far this year. Despite the frustration with regulatory policy Ottemoeller is optimistic that somehow Friant will not have to release water stored behind Friant dam and upper watershed dams for the Exchange Contractors this year and east valley farmers may see a full allotment yet. Rainfall at Huntington Lake so far this water year is more than double last year.
State Water Project Jumps To 60 Percent Allocation
With runoff from spring storms boosting reservoir levels, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) just increased its water delivery estimate for most recipients to 60 percent of requests for the calendar year. DWR’s initial State Water Project allocation, announced in December, was 10 percent of requests. As storms developed, the allocation was increased to 15 percent on January 26, then to 30 percent on February 24 and 45 percent on March 17. Today’s boost to a 60 percent allocation is mostly due to March storms that soaked Northern California after a mostly dry February.The last 100 percent allocation was in 2006. SWP allocation in 2015 was 20 percent and 2014 – 5 percent. In 2013 it was just 35 percent.Central Valley contractors include County of Kings, Dudley Ridge Water District and Empire West Side Irrigation District in Stratford.