Farm leader: Water allocations underscore need for action
» February 26, 2010 «
Today's water allocation announcements from federal and state water projects underscore the inadequacy of the California water system and the need for continued action to address the water crisis, according to the leader of the state's largest farm organization.
California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said the announcements by the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project contain the promise of improved supplies, but still leave farm customers uncertain as they plan their 2010 crops. The CVP warned today that farm customers both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could see allocations as low as 5 percent under the most conservative scenarios. The State Water Project raised its projected water deliveries to 15 percent.
"For farmers and their employees, this is like a nightmare that you can't wake up from," Wenger said. "What makes it worse is that, unlike previous years, these low allocations come at a time when snowpack levels stand near average and our reservoirs are refilling."
Federal officials said CVP allocations could reach 30 percent for farmers south of the delta and 100 percent for those to the north, if precipitation remains at least average this winter, and that they would pursue additional measures to supply another 8 percent to 10 percent of supplies for farm customers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, where water shortages have been most severe.
"The federal government is doing the right thing, to try to find more water to maintain food production and jobs on the Westside, but it took a lot of pushing and prodding for it to do so," Wenger said. "We're grateful to Senator Dianne Feinstein for her proposal that led to today's announcement from the CVP and we'll monitor carefully to make sure the federal government follows through on its promises."
He said ongoing water shortages have caused "lasting damage to farm families and rural communities" and that Farm Bureau will continue to urge government agencies to pursue additional solutions that address the water needs for all of California.
"Farmers and ranchers will do their best to make the most of the water they have," Wenger said, "but the inevitable results of chronic water shortages will be idle land, loss of jobs and reduction of locally grown food supplies that Californians depend upon."
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of 81,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.
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