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California farmers hit again with water cuts

Farmers in central California will again get little or no water from a basic water system in the midst of a persistent drought, but exactly how they will be affected will vary. farmers from the Central Valley Project, a huge system of dams, reservoirs and canals that oversees the state. This means that farmers in the agricultural area that produces much of the country’s fruit, nuts and vegetables will again have to find other sources of water – or leave. “This is part of the economy that growers have to work to decide what will they plant or what will they irrigate “, said Ara Azhderian, who manages a water area near Fresno that uses the Central Valley Water Project. WHAT IS THE CENTRAL VALLEY PROJECT? It is one of the two largest water systems in California that supplies water to farms, cities and more across the state. California oversees the other system, the State Water Project. The Central Valley Project stretches 400 miles (644 kilometers) from north to south and draws from the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins. The federal government has more than 270 contracts for the delivery of water from the system to irrigated areas, farmers and cities. Most of the water is used for agriculture, serving seven of California’s top 10 counties. Some water also goes to cities and environmental remediation efforts for fish and wildlife. WHO IS AFFECTED? Water cuts will not affect all farmers in the area equally. California’s water rights system affects who gets how much water and when – especially in times of drought. Even in times of drought, some older farmers with water rights are entitled to 75% of their grants. But this year, even these deliveries could be reduced. “It’s very certain that they’re not going to get the full 75% just because we do not have water available,” said Ernest Conant, director of Reclamation in the Greater California area. On the Sacramento River, 145 water executives Rights holders claim about 20% of the water assigned to the Central Valley Project. In the San Joaquin Basin, four large water bodies have senior rights, Reclamation said. Farmers without senior rights, meanwhile, will not receive any of the water available to them. The cities will receive 25% of what they were promised. WHERE WILL FARMERS GET WATER INSTEAD? Their options include purchasing additional water from other water users or irrigation areas. Growers can also pump groundwater where available. Ryan Ferguson, a farmer in central California who grows peanuts, almonds, tomatoes and cotton, said between 40% and 60% of the water on his farm comes from the Central Valley Project. Another third comes from supplementary water purchased at a higher price outside its water area. It is also based more on pumped groundwater. “It gives us some security,” he said. However, Ferguson said he expects to cultivate 40% of the 3,000-acre (1,214-hectare) farm this year due to insufficient water. He’s probably not alone. A study from the University of California, Merced, found that last year’s drought left 395,100 acres (159,900 hectares) of farmland dormant and 8,745 farm jobs lost, resulting in $ 1.2 billion in losses. HOW UNUSUAL IS THIS? Water managers and farmers have become accustomed to the cuts in recent years and have been waiting for the announcement. However, “it’s always frustrating to hear zero percent,” said Jose Gutierrez, chief operating officer of the Westlands Water District, the country’s largest rural water district. Farmers without senior rights also did not receive water from the Central Valley Project in 2014 and 2015. They got half of what was allocated to their contracts in 2020. Last year they started with 5% of their allocation and closed the year at 0 % as the drought hit the state. Drinking less than half of the available water has been typical of the Westlands region for the past 30 years, Gutierrez said. If the coming months bring wetter weather, the federal government could end up providing less water to farmers. “But even if we have A Miracle in March, it will be a pretty low distribution like last year,” said Conant of Reclamation. Last year was the second driest year in California based on rainfall levels amid 22 years of severe drought covering the West. Heavy rains in October and December brought some hope, but January and February were extremely dry. This has left many reservoirs in the state at or near historic lows. Much of California’s water supply comes from melting snow from the Sierra Nevada mountains. And the snow levels there are currently 63% of the average for this time of year. ___ The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation to cover water and environmental policy. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Farmers in central California will again get little or no water from a basic water system in the midst of a persistent drought, but exactly how they will be affected will vary.

The Bureau of Reclamation said last week that it would not be able to provide some farmers with water from the Central Valley Project, a huge system of dams, reservoirs and canals that oversees the state.

This means that farmers in the agricultural area that produces much of the country’s fruit, nuts and vegetables will again need to find other sources of water – or leave the land dormant, as many have done in recent years.

“This is part of the economy that growers need to work on to decide what to plant or what to irrigate,” said Ara Azhderian, who manages a water area near Fresno that uses Central Valley Project water.

WHAT IS THE CENTRAL VALLEY PROJECT?

It is one of the two largest water systems in California that supplies water to farms, cities and more across the state. California oversees the other system, the State Water Project.

The Central Valley Project extends 400 miles (644 kilometers) from north to south and draws from the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins.

The federal government has more than 270 contracts for the delivery of water from the system to irrigated areas, farmers and cities. Most of the water is used for agriculture, serving seven of California’s top 10 counties. Part of the water also goes to cities and to environmental rehabilitation efforts for fish and wildlife.

WHO IS AFFECTED?

Water cuts will not affect all farmers in the area equally. California’s water rights system affects who gets how much water and when – especially in times of drought.

Even in times of drought, some older farmers with water rights are entitled to 75% of their grants. But this year, even these deliveries could be reduced.

“It’s very certain that they’re not going to get their full 75% just because we do not have water available,” said Ernest Conant, director of Reclamation in the California-Great Basin area.

On the Sacramento River, 145 senior water rights holders are claiming about 20% of the water assigned to the Central Valley Project. In the San Joaquin Basin, four large water bodies have senior rights, Reclamation said.

Meanwhile, farmers without the rights of the elderly will not receive anything from the water available to them. Cities will get 25% of what they were promised.

WHERE WILL FARMERS GET WATER INSTEAD?

Their options include purchasing additional water from other water users or irrigation areas. Growers can also pump groundwater where available.

Ryan Ferguson, a farmer in central California who grows peanuts, almonds, tomatoes and cotton, said between 40% and 60% of the water on his farm comes from the Central Valley Project. Another third comes from supplementary water purchased at a higher price outside its water area. It is also based more on pumped groundwater.

“It gives us some security,” he said.

However, Ferguson said he expects 40% of the 3,000-acre (1,214-hectare) farm to be set aside this year due to insufficient water. He will probably not be alone.

A study by the University of California, Merced, found that last year’s drought left 395,100 acres (159,900 hectares) of farmland dormant and 8,745 farm jobs lost, resulting in $ 1.2 billion in losses.

HOW UNUSUAL IS THIS?

Water managers and farmers have become accustomed to the cuts in recent years and have been waiting for the announcement.

However, “it’s always frustrating when you hear zero percent,” said Jose Gutierrez, chief operating officer of the Westlands Water District, the country’s largest agricultural water area.

Farmers without rights for the elderly also did not receive water from the Central Valley Project in 2014 and 2015. They received half of what was allocated to their contracts in 2020. Last year, they started with 5% of their allocation and closed the year at 0 % as the drought hit the state.

Drinking less than half of the available water has been typical of the Westlands region for the past 30 years, Gutierrez said.

If the coming months bring wetter weather, the federal government could end up providing less water to farmers.

“But even if we have a miracle in March, it will be a fairly low distribution like last year,” said Conant of Reclamation.

WHAT IS BEHIND THE CUTTINGS?

In short, drought. Last year was the second driest year in California based on rainfall levels amid 22 years of severe drought covering the West. Heavy rains in October and December brought some hope, but January and February were extremely dry.

This has left many reservoirs in the state at or near historic lows.

Much of California’s water supply comes from melting snow from the Sierra Nevada mountains. And the snow levels there are currently 63% of the average for this time of year.

___

The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation to cover water and environmental policy. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

California farmers hit again with water cuts Source link California farmers hit again with water cuts

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