USBR: Trump Administration Advances Plan to Increase Water Reliability in Bay Area and Central Valley

The following news release was originally posted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is a partner in the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Final Feasibility Report, which documents potential costs and benefits of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project. As part of a continuing effort to increase storage capability throughout California, Reclamation and the Contra Costa Water District worked together on Phase 2 of the project to increase the capacity from 160,000 acre-feet up to 275,000 acre-feet and adding new conveyance facilities.

In October 2018, President Trump issued the Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West. Reclamation, together with its partners, is acting on that call and taking action to improve water supply reliability throughout the state.

“We are pleased to partner with CCWD on this smart expansion project that would create additional storage capacity in an existing footprint,” said Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This is a win-win for the Bay Area and the Central Valley Project.”

This expansion could provide increased water supply reliability and operational flexibility to the Central Valley Project. In addition, the expansion would deliver water supplies to various Bay Area municipal and industrial water providers, as well as federally-recognized wildlife refuge areas and irrigation districts in the San Joaquin Valley.

“This is a significant milestone for the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project and project partners,” said CCWD Board President Lisa Borba. “We are grateful for our partnership with Reclamation as we move forward to make this important investment in water storage a reality.”

“As a potential beneficiary of the expanded storage and improved conveyance facilities, the Del Puerto Water District commends both Reclamation and CCWD’s efforts to bring LVRE to this important milestone, said Del Puerto Water District General Manager Anthea Hansen. Water infrastructure, especially expanded storage capacity and improved connectivity between different regions of our state, are foremost on the minds of water managers in California. I am truly impressed with the excellent work of the CCWD team and look forward to hopefully being a part of this much-needed project, not only for my region but for the health and prosperity of our wonderful state.”

The LVE is a joint investigation between Reclamation and CCWD authorized by Congress in 2003. The objectives of the expansion are to develop water supplies for environmental water management, increase water supply reliability for water providers within the San Francisco Bay Area, and improve the quality of water deliveries to municipal and industrial customers. The Final Feasibility Report was transmitted to Congress on August 11.

The Final Feasibility Report is available on Reclamation’s website at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/vaqueros/.

Spring Storms Boost CVP Water Allocation

Sacramento, CA (May 19, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) issued an updated, increased water supply allocation of 20% for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID). The initial allocation had been set at 15%.

Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, issued the following statement:

“During these unprecedented times, we must remember that reliable water supplies are the foundation on which community and economic health is built.

This year’s lack of rain and snowpack has challenged Reclamation’s ability to meet the multiple needs for water deliveries from the Central Valley Project – agricultural water supply, water for ecosystems and threatened species, and water for California’s urban populations.

The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority appreciates Reclamation’s ability to carefully strike a balance, given the challenging conditions. The reliability and quantity of surface water deliveries directly impacts the amount of groundwater that is used to produce the food we eat and the water we drink.

Today’s announcement of a water allocation increase has positive benefits for California communities and its environment and reduces the reliance on groundwater aquifers in the San Joaquin Valley.”

BBID is a member agency of the SLDMWA, which serves 28 member public agencies, 25 of which contract with Reclamation for water supply from the CVP.

In a news release, Reclamation credited spring storms for the increased allocation.

“Thanks to April precipitation showing a sizeable water supply improvement for the American River watershed, Reclamation is pleased to announce this increased allocation for CVP water contractors south-of-the Delta,” said California-Great Basin Regional Director Ernest Conant. “Even with the recent gains in water supply, the year as a whole has still been relatively dry. Reclamation will continue to monitor conditions and adjust accordingly. We urge our contractors to continue to exercise conservative use of the resource.”

Further water supply updates are posted at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvp-water/index.html. 

Dry Weather Leads to Low Water Allocation

Sacramento, CA (February 25, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) issued an initial water supply allocation of 15% for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID).

After a promising start to winter, dry conditions have returned across California. It has rained more in February in Death Valley than in Sacramento. The statewide snowpack is below average, and the long-range forecast indicates the lack of rain and snowfall may continue.

This image released by the National Weather Service, illustrates the dramatic difference between this year and last year’s snowpack.

“While we certainly wish Reclamation was able to issue a higher allocation, we recognize they must be responsive to our state’s current conditions,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “The looming threat of the next drought underscores the need for adaptative water management. Implementing the new biological opinions abandons an outdated, restrictive approach in favor of real-time, cutting-edge science to best meet the needs of cities, farms and the environment.”

For the first time in a decade, updated biological opinions were issued last week. Those federal rules govern water use through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Had those biological opinions been in place last year, it is estimated that the projects would have been able to save more than one-million acre-feet of additional water. That would be tremendously valuable in any year, but especially in a dry one like 2020. At a 15% allocation, growers in BBID’s CVP service area will have a baseline water supply of just 0.51 acre-feet of water per acre – down from 3.4 acre-feet per acre with a full allocation.

“This initial allocation also underlines the need for investment in our water systems, including increasing storage to save more water during wet years for use during dry ones; and more conveyance to move water more flexibly, ensuring reliability in the face of increasingly unpredictable, extreme weather patterns.”

BBID Supports Historic Agreement Between U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources

FRESNO, CA – Today the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced a series of agreements to resolve water conflicts that have vexed the State for decades and to reaffirm the collaborative partnership between the Federal and State governments to develop long-term solutions to California’s major water problems.

The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) joined other water agencies in supporting the historic agreement.

Read the full release below.

VA Joint Contractor Press Release_FINAL

Water Allocation Remains Low, Despite Full Reservoirs

Byron, CA (May 28, 2018) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement, after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) crept up the water supply allocation – from 40% to 45% – for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including BBID:

“The Bureau’s latest allocation increase amounts to a drop in the bucket for BBID’s farmers, who should have been able to count on a much more robust supply in a year like this. The statewide average for CVP reservoirs is more than 100 percent of normal, just one year removed from the wettest year on record.

The still-low allocation – which began at 20% and has gradually increased to 45% – shows that the greatest challenge to reliable CVP water deliveries is our regulatory climate, not Mother Nature.

We join our partners at the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) in calling for change. Overly conservative and restrictive CVP operations create unnecessary hardships not just for farmers, but for the entire state. If the federal government can’t supply requisite deliveries even with abundant supplies, then clearly, the system is broken.”

–Rick Gilmore, GM

Decision to Increase Growers’ Water Supply Too Little, Too Late

Byron, CA (April 20, 2018) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) announced an increased water supply allocation – from 20% to 40% – for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including BBID:

“Once again, the USBR is taking a far too conservative approach. Nearly every reservoir across California is at, or well above, historical average. Shasta Lake is at 108% of normal. San Luis Reservoir is at 100% of normal. If that doesn’t merit an allocation for BBID’s CVP growers greater than 40%, then what will?”

“The USBR’s decision to delay this announcement to this point – when growing season is well underway – means that it will be difficult for farmers to take full advantage of the increased water availability. Many planting decisions have already been made based upon a smaller supply. Simply put: the Central Valley Project is broken and we need to make changes to restore its delivery capabilities – especially when there’s more than enough water to go around.”

–Rick Gilmore, GM

BBID: Water Allocation Announcement “Far Too Cautious”

Byron, CA (February 20, 2018) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) General Manager Rick Gilmore released the following statement after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) announced an initial 20% water supply allocation for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including BBID:

“Just one year removed from the wettest winter on record – with reservoirs still above 100% of historical average across the state – growers in BBID’s CVP service area will yet again face a water shortage. We recognize the winter has been dry thus far. However, given how much water is in Shasta Lake and San Luis Reservoir, the Bureau took a far too cautious approach that penalizes our farmers and ranchers.”

“This allocation announcement strongly underscores the need to build more water storage capacity. It’s time to put voter-approved Proposition 1 dollars to work to build the storage projects we so desperately need. Capturing storm runoff in above-average or record-setting years is a critical piece of the puzzle to fix the state’s broken water system.”

– Rick Gilmore, GM

The full announcement from the USBR is below.

Reclamation announces initial water supply allocation for the Central Valley Project