Water contractors send emergency request to Jewell & Pritzker; want restrictions relaxed at pumps to capture runoff from impending storm events

letter mailboxThe San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, and the Friant Water Authority have sent a letter to Secretary Sally Jewell and Secretary Penny Pritzker requesting emergency relief from pumping restrictions due to impending storm events which they say could provide an opportunity to capture significant amounts of water.  These restrictions have resulted in the loss of 225,000 to 450,000 acre-feet of water so far this year, water that could have been moved into storage but instead flowed out to sea, they say.

The state and federal fish agencies have been examining opportunities for flexibility, but despite their efforts, water supplies have been cut back to the Silicon Valley and over 3 million acres of farmland are receiving a zero allocation this year, resulting in crops such as trees and vines being ripped out for lack of water, the letter states.  Another storm is headed towards California, and they are requesting maximum pumping of the flow that is going to develop from the storm.

Monitoring data shows that protected species are not presently in the south Delta, so maximized pumping for the limited time that flows are elevated are unlikely to jeopardize listed species, they say; Time is short, and a decision is needed by close of business on Thursday.

The opportunity presented by this storm is upon us.  We cannot afford inaction by either state or federal regulators or water managers.  We need your authority to impress upon your Departments and others that this is truly an emergency situation that requires immediate action.  Failure to take action becomes a decision in and of itself and we are not likely to have another opportunity this year to help relieve this dire situation.”

Read the letter here:  Drought Letter to Sec Jewell Sec Pritzker – 3-25-14

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