Sacramento, CA (February 23, 2021) – In the midst of persistently dry winter weather, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) today announced an initial 5% Central Valley Project (CVP) allocation for South-of-Delta CVP contractors, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID). The current statewide snowpack average is hovering just above 50%.
“We wish the initial allocation were higher, but we recognize the difficult position Reclamation is in given the lack of precipitation,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “In recent years, we have seen two extremes of California weather: record drought and record-setting rain and snow. Meeting the water needs of our growers – and the state – is a problem best solved with flexible, multi-year resource management based on our latest science.”
“It demands investment in the upkeep and restoration of our critical water facilities, in the enhancement of our ability to store water when it’s plentiful for the next drought we know is coming, and in common sense policy that removes bureaucratic hurdles,” Gilmore continued.
The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA), which represents 27 member agencies including BBID, joined the call for sustainable solutions. SLDMWA members provide water service to approximately 1,200,000 acres of irrigated agriculture, 2 million people, and 130,000 acres of wetlands within the western San Joaquin Valley, San Benito and Santa Clara counties.
“Healthy and sustainable food production is a national security issue and the Authority’s member agencies serve the urban and agricultural communities that grow a significant portion of the nation’s plate,” said SLDMWA Executive Director Federico Barajas. “As a community, region, state and country, we need to work collaboratively to improve the resilience of California’s water system in a balanced way, particularly with the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Authority staff will continue to work with Reclamation and its member agencies to analyze hydrologic conditions in hopes the allocation can be increased as early as practicable.”
In a news release, Reclamation said it will continue to monitor hydrology as the water year progresses, looking for opportunities for operational flexibility.