Temperance Flat Dam Application Signed, Would Dramatically Boost Storage Capacity

Following the historic signing of the application to build Temperance Flat Dam, a project that would dramatically improve California’s water storage, Cannon Michael, Chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, issued the following statement:

LOS BANOS, CA – “Today’s signing ceremony for the Water Infrastructure Authority application marks an important milestone for the water users we serve. A diverse group of stakeholders have joined together in a bold effort to advance water storage for California. As chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, I am proud to be a part of this historic action,” said Cannon Michael, chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

“Surface water is vital to California. From our agriculture to our information technology to environmental management, the cities, counties, tribes and public water agencies represented here share a common bond. That bond is the need for adequate and dependable water supplies. Thousands of farmers produce food and fiber on some of the most productive farmland anywhere for consumers that live right here in our back yard and around the world. And as the world leader in technology, Silicon Valley depends on adequate and dependable water supplies to fuel the innovation of the future.

Picture Courtesy of @CalAgToday

“Temperance Flat Dam will enhance California’s water supply, both for economic purposes and also to provide important ecosystem benefits. Fisheries and wetlands, stream flow and riparian forests will all thrive in the future with the additional water this project will provide. It will also be an important part of our efforts to address climate change. If predictions are right, future storms will be warmer and wetter and our ability to depend on the Sierra snowpack will diminish. It is important to begin preparing for that today.

“We are confident that with projects like this, the Valley and the rest of California will be a better place for our farms, our communities, and the important ecosystem resources that contribute to our quality of life.”

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Banta-Carbona ID, Broadview WD, Byron Bethany ID, Central Calif. ID, City of Tracy, Columbia Canal Co. (a Friend), Del Puerto WD, Eagle Field WD, Firebaugh Canal WD, Fresno Slough WD, Grassland WD, Henry Miller RD #2131, James ID, Laguna WD, Mercy Springs WD, Oro Loma WD, Pacheco WD, Panoche WD, Patterson ID, Pleasant Valley WD, Reclamation District 1606, San Benito County WD, San Luis WD, Santa Clara Valley WD, Tranquillity ID, Turner Island WD, West Side ID, West Stanislaus ID, Westlands WD

San Luis Reservoir Storage Sinks to “Shameful” 25-Year Low

Los Banos, CA (August 5, 2016) – The San Luis Reservoir has fallen to just 10% capacity, its lowest level in 25 years.

“These pictures speak volumes about the gross mismanagement of the Central Valley Project ,” said Byron- Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) General Manager Rick Gilmore. “We simply cannot continue to prioritize failing environmental policies over the survival of agriculture.”

Despite above-average rainfall this year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced in April a 5%  allocation for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, a harsh blow for farmers in BBID’s CVP service area near Tracy. The CVP was started in the 1930s to transport water from reservoirs in Northern California to the Central Valley, largely for agricultural use. However, before this year’s 5% allocation, farmers in BBID’s CVP service area were hit with a zero-percent CVP supply for three straight years. While Shasta Lake sits three-quarters full, San Luis Reservoir, where water from Northern California is stored, is dwindling.

“The broken state of San Luis Reservoir reflects the broader reality that the CVP, as a water supply project, has been broken by the policy choices of the Federal government,” said Jason Peltier, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

“The unending practice of taking water from human use and giving it to fish in hopes of helping the fish is a failed enterprise,” Peltier added. “The fish are not responding at all. At the same time human, social and economic destruction continues to accelerate. Shameful.”

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Leaders Call Central Valley Project Allocation “Absurd”

Byron, CA (April 1, 2016) – Prayers for rain were finally answered across Northern California, but farmers in Byron-Bethany Irrigation District’s (BBID) Central Valley Project (CVP) service area near Tracy were dealt another potentially catastrophic blow Friday. Despite above-average rainfall and a Sierra snowpack nearing normal levels, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a 5% allocation for south-of-Delta CVP contractors.

“Today’s paltry allocation announcement is nothing short of absurd,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “It is the result of rigid and ultimately ineffective environmental regulations that prioritize fish while punishing the people provide food for California and the rest of the country.”

Growers and ranchers in BBID’s 6000-acre, CVP service area in San Joaquin County have already struggled to endure three straight years of zero-percent supply from the CVP, forced into purchasing supplemental water at skyrocketing, unsustainable rates for the very survival of their multi-generational family farms. An El Nino winter brought desperately-needed precipitation and rekindled hope of an improved allocation this year.

“While a 5% allocation is better than nothing, it will ultimately do little to avert the disaster facing our farmers whose livelihoods are being threatened, not only by the drought, but by failed regulations and crippling mismanagement,” Gilmore added. “Holding water back from our communities has provided no measurable benefit to the fisheries.”

BBID leaders joined the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) and the Westlands Water District (WWD), in expressing pointed criticism of the Bureau’s allocation announcement. The SLDWA said in a news release it was “furious,” while WWD released a statement calling the allocation “grossly inadequate.” Meanwhile, in late March, Senator Diane Feinstein penned a letter urging President Obama to direct maximized Delta pumping allowable under the law, citing the highest flows on the Sacramento River in four years.

However, the latest data on Friday showed that of the more than 40,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) flowing into the Delta, more than 37,000 CFS – or 95% of the water flowing into the Delta – is being sent out to the ocean.

“At some point, logic and reason must rule the day,” Gilmore said. “We understand the need to carefully evaluate our water supply given the drought, but hoarding water for fish while sacrificing our crops and our farmers flies in the face of good governance and common sense. The future of our communities is at stake.”

Northern California Water Districts Gather to Celebrate Success of Emergency Water Project

Byron, CA (August 25, 2015) – On August 25, 2015, nearly 100 employees, board members and neighbors gathered at Byron-Bethany Irrigation District to honor the heroic measures taken by the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority several weeks ago when the organization literally changed the direction of the Delta-Mendota Canal for the first time in history. The emergency “Pump Back Program” was a desperate drought project – the first of its kind designed to keep six area water districts from going dry.

“Our team accomplished the impossible,” says Frances Mizuno, Assistant Executive Director of San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which operates the canal. “Moving water in the opposite direction while facing daunting time constraints was nothing short of amazing. This team is to be applauded for their tenacity and hard work.”

The $700,000 project was led by Engineering Director Bob Martin and involved the installation of several massive pumps in three locations over a six-week period between May and July. The project allowed canal water to be lifted 18 feet along 62 miles from the San Luis Reservoir to the City of Tracy. The result was more than 80,000 acre-feet of banked water in the San Luis Reservoir to get the water agencies through the summer. The districts include the Del Puerto Water District, the West Stanislaus Irrigation District, the Patterson Irrigation District, the Banta-Carbona Irrigation District, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District and the City of Tracy.

“This quick thinking and unconventional solution brought a real success story in our region during an otherwise extremely dire period,” says Rick Gilmore, General Manager of Byron-Bethany Irrigation District. “Recent actions by the State Water Board have meant that we simply do not have the water we need to meet the needs of our customers. We are grateful to the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority for providing our farmers and ranchers with a lifeline.”