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2011 Water Allocations

Well, to say it’s been a wet fall and winter so far would be an understatement. Weeks of forecasted rain and snow throughout California have led to flooding concerns and landslides in Southern California. Snow accumulations are well above normal and have added a needed boost to local economies reliant on winter skiing and snowboarding.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) first snowpack results yielded snow levels at 198 percent of normal. The early rain and snow season led DWR to forecast that state water project water allocations would be 50 percent, well above what is typically forecast in December. According to DWR, “The final amount delivered to 25 million Californians and nearly a million irrigated acres of farmland will largely depend on weather between now and spring. Deliveries were 60 percent of requests in 2007, 35 percent in 2008, 40 percent in 2009, and will total 50 percent of the 4,172,126 acre-feet requested this year. The last 100 percent allocation — difficult to achieve even in wet years because of pumping restrictions to protect threatened and endangered fish — was in 2006.”

The Bureau of Reclamation will not announce Central Valley Project water contractors 2011 water allocations until mid to late February. North of the Delta water contractors are cautiously optimistic for a healthy water supply year.

The 2007-2008 drought led to over 500,000 acres of Central Valley farmland being fallowed because of water supply cutbacks. This disaster led to a heightened effort to build additional reservoirs for water supply reliability in California. The bond measure that would have been used to build this infrastructure was pulled from the ballot in fear that Californians would not approve a bond measure in light of our dismal economy. The bond measure will appear on the ballot during the 2012 elections.

Water supply reliability is critical to sustain our active agricultural economy in California. Over the next few months, we can only hope that it continues to rain so California farmers can continue to grow the food that feeds our nation. ■

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