Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the initial Central Valley Project allocations, giving no water to North of Delta and South of Delta ag contractors, 50% for CVP M&I contractors, and 40% for wildlife refuges and settlement contractors. Here are the statements I’ve received or found so far, listed in alphabetical order. More will be added as they are received:
From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
Today’s announcement by the federal Central Valley Project that it will deliver no water to most of its farm customers highlights the lack of investment California has made in new water supplies, according to the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. CFBF President Paul Wenger said the state has failed to insulate itself from the effects of drought.
“As the saying goes, you reap what you sow, and our state and federal governments have failed miserably at providing the resources and infrastructure to adapt to changing climatic conditions,” Wenger said.
“Make no mistake, our current water crisis is not caused by two years of below normal rainfall, followed by the record dry year we’re having right now,” Wenger said. “This crisis is the direct result of 20-plus years of inaction by politicians and policy-makers, who have failed to take the steps required to shield California from drought.
“We are living the future that we have predicted for at least the last two decades. Without the creation of additional water storage, California is unprepared for extended drought. Because of the increased demands from population growth and an inflexible commitment to the protection of endangered species and habitat, our water system has been drained of its flexibility to provide water in times of drought,” he said.
“Today’s announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation of a zero water allocation for millions of acres of California farmland was not unexpected. The announcement also underscores how broken the state’s water supply system has become and that significant policy decisions and investments must be made to assure food production is a viable part of California’s future.
“We estimate that more than 500,000 acres of farmland will be idled this year due to water supply shortages, said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. This is the result of multiple dry years and federal environmental policies that prevent the full use of agricultural water supplies from being used for purposes for which they were intended – to grow food.
“Agricultural water supply shortages harm more than just the farms that produce hundreds of varieties of food, fiber and nursery products, Wade added. Unemployment may hit 15,000 seasonal and full time agricultural workers if this year’s drought has the kind of impact on the economy that occurred in 2009. Water shortages then led to idling of 269,000 acres and over 7,400 workers, about half of the expected impact of this year’s drought.
“Consumers throughout the country have a right to be concerned about the safety, price and reliability of their food supply. California produces almost half of the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables and without adequate water in California, food supplies from other states or other countries may be the only option to fill the gap.”
“Though not unexpected, the Bureau of Reclamation’s announcement of an initial allocation of zero for agricultural water service and Friant Division contractors and 40 percent for senior water rights holders demonstrates the severity of this drought. The lack of available water makes transfers and exchanges very difficult and points to the need for greater flexibility in operating state and federal water systems to maximize what water we do have.
“The bill I introduced with Senators Boxer, Wyden and Merkley offers the flexibility we desperately need. It is vital the Senate pass this bill as soon as possible. We need to work with the House to send a bill to the president that provides immediate assistance to farms, businesses and communities in need of help.”
Today the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced an initial zero water allocation for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project agricultural water service contractors. This comes as no surprise due to the record dry conditions experienced over the last twelve months, coupled with water supply reductions related to federal regulatory actions.
“Unfortunately, federal water management policies have made it nearly impossible to meet the water supply needs of California farmers and communities. What is particularly troubling is that these policies have provided no discernible benefit to the environment,” said Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands Water District. “The impact of this drought is far reaching, impacting more than 80 percent of California communities, and threatening the viability of California’s agricultural production.”
Westlands appreciates the emergency aid provided during this crisis, but until Congress acts to restore some balance between the use of water for the environment and the use of water for people, farmers and communities will remain in a crisis for the foreseeable future. Without a solution, the state can also expect to spend hundreds of millions of dollars next year providing the same relief to communities, businesses and unemployed agricultural workers. Even more alarming is that the zero allocation announced today will affect decisions about planting crops for this year and fallowing land in the future. These decisions will have consequences that reach beyond the farmers and workers in the Central Valley Region.
Westlands appeals to President Obama and Congress to capitalize on the efforts made over the last two weeks and expedite changes that will capture any new water that comes in the near future–water that could have a dramatic impact on communities and the ability of farms to survive this crisis.