UPDATE: In Historically Wet Year, Farmers to Receive Full Water Supply

Byron, CA (April 11, 2017) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement: 

“For the first time in more than a decade, farmers in Byron-Bethany Irrigation District’s (BBID) Central Valley Project (CVP) service area will rightfully enjoy a full water supply. Today’s updated allocation announcement from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, increasing the south-of-Delta CVP allocation from 65% to 100%, is long-awaited news for our growers. The decision is certainly appropriate in the wake of a historically wet winter that brought near-record rainfall and snow. BBID also applauds the Bureau for allowing unused water from this year’s allocation, to be stored and used next year.”

“Unfortunately, the announcement may have come too late. Many planting decisions have already been made, based on a lesser – and now, outdated – water supply. The delay highlights the need for change. BBID remains committed to working with our local, state and federal partners to seek solutions for a water system that falls short for California’s cities, its agricultural community and its environment.”

Delayed Decision Proves System is Broken, Prolongs Regulatory Drought

Byron, CA (March 23, 2017) – Farmers left waiting in limbo to learn how much water they would receive from the Central Valley Project (CVP) finally have their answer – and it is stunningly disappointing.

On Wednesday, after weeks of inexplicable delays that hamstrung farmers at the outset of the growing season, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation finally announced a mere 65% allocation for South-of-Delta CVP contractors, including Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID). The CVP, one of the state’s largest infrastructure projects, is managed by the federal government and delivers water to the Central Valley.

“If there was ever a year for a full, 100% allocation, this is it,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “This is the wettest year ever in California. The state has double the water it normally has this time of year. Our reservoirs are literally overflowing. Our snowpack is at more than 150% of normal. This delayed decision extends our regulatory drought and shows how badly broken California’s water system is.”

Instead of utilizing what should be abundant water supplies to grow farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to feed California and the nation, growers in BBID’s CVP service area will yet again face shortages. The lack of a timely decision was damaging enough. Without knowing how much water is available, farmers can’t make critical decisions about how many acres to plant, or how many people to hire. The 65% allocation adds insult to injury, and may reduce how much local produce is available for California’s families.

Meanwhile, water that could be used in cities and on farms, or to recharge the state’s taxed groundwater flows into the ocean, in the name of failed environmental policies. Federal fisheries are hoarding water to keep river temperatures at arbitrary levels to protect fish – with no concrete improvements. These policies aren’t good for California’s communities, its farms or even its environment.

“The District is more committed than ever to doing whatever necessary to fix the system,” Gilmore added. “We must finally build new infrastructure to store more water in wet years. We must pursue constructive regulatory solutions to properly divvy water between the state’s cities, its agriculture community and the environment. That’s the best – and only – way to insulate against future droughts and secure long-term water reliability for not only our growers, but the entire state.”

Farmers Left in Limbo After “Extremely Puzzling” Water Allocation Announcement

Byron, CA (February 28, 2017) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement:

“In what’s shaping up as the wettest year on record, farmers in Byron-Bethany Irrigation District’s (BBID) Central Valley Project (CVP) service area are stuck in limbo, their water held hostage apparently at the behest of federal fishery agencies.

Today’s extremely puzzling announcement from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation means some CVP users will receive a full 100% allocation in 2017, while many of their immediate neighbors, including BBID, will have to wait weeks to find out what this year’s water supply will be. This nonsensical, imbalanced approach introduces unnecessary and potentially costly uncertainty to many of the District’s growers, who are now forced to wait to plant crops.”

“As we have seen time and again, federal fisheries are hoarding water in a misguided effort to keep river temperatures at an arbitrary level to protect fish – at everyone else’s expense. Today’s announcement underscores how badly the water supply system, built to bring water to farms and communities, has been commandeered by environmental interests.

With months left in the rainy season, reservoirs are already filled. The Bureau itself acknowledged historic precipitation levels. There is plenty of water to go around. And yet, there is still no balance in sharing our overflowing supplies between mounting environmental demands and the water users who fund the system and rely upon its supplies. Our growers expect – and deserve – better.” – Rick Gilmore, GM