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California farmers see state and federal water allocations increased to 40 percent

by Rand Green | May 04, 2010
With above-normal rainfall and snowpack for California this year, state and federal water authorities have both increased their allocation of water deliveries to agencies serving farmers in the San Joaquin Valley to 40 percent, up from previously announced allocations of 30 percent.

The increases were announced May 4 in separate press releases from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the California Department of Water Resources.

"Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the Bureau of Reclamation's 2010 Central Valley Project water supply allocations have increased for agricultural water service contractors in California's San Joaquin Valley," according to a May 4 press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

An initial allocation of just 5 percent was announced in February, and that was increased to 30 percent on April 15.

"Persistent spring storms will allow the Department of Water Resources to increase its 2010 allocation of state water project deliveries to 40 percent," stated a DWR release.

Even with snowpack water content in the Sierra Mountains at 143 percent of normal, environmental restrictions on pumping water out of the Sacramento Delta to contractors serving San Joaquin Valley farmers and other water users south of the Delta "continue to limit the amounts of water that can be delivered" to those users, according to the DWR press release.

Reductions in water allotments to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have resulted in hundreds of thousands of acres of once-productive cropland being left fallow, mainly on the West Side of the valley, and have caused unemployment rates as high as 40 percent in some agricultural communities in the valley.