Now Federal Water Cut Foreseen
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ The federal Central Valley Project, which supplies water to about one-third of California’s irrigated farmland, is warning farmers of a possible 75 percent reduction.
The cuts projected Tuesday came a day after the State Water Project said that for the first time it would suspend entirely allocations to agriculture.
The federal cuts are even worse than what the growers had expected, said Clark Biggs, spokesman for the California Farm Bureau Federation.
″It’s a bummer,″ Biggs said. ″This will mean severe problems for a lot of farmers.″
Don Paff, operations chief for the Central Valley Project, told state legislators Tuesday that the best farmers can expect this year is the same as last year - a 50 percent drop in water they normally receive.
″The most probable is something worse than that,″ Paff said.
California is entering its fifth year of drought.
The federal government is the largest water supplier in California, delivering about 8.5 million acre-feet in a normal year, most of it to farmers.
The Central Valley Project delivers water to more than one-third of the state’s 9.2 million acres of irrigated farmland.
A three-fourths reduction would be the worst since the second year of the 1976-77 drought, when the CVP cut deliveries to farms by 75 percent; municipal customers had their supplies reduced by 25 percent to 50 percent.
″I suggest to all of our (agricultural) contractors that they not plan on anything better than 1977 at this point,″ Paff said.
The CVP makes its allocations in April, but Paff’s comments hinted at what farmers can expect when the agency makes its first official water delivery forecast next week. That forecast determines what crops many farmers will plant.
CVP officials gave no indication whether its municipal customers would suffer cuts this year.
With half the wet season over, rainfall and the snowpack are averaging one- forth of normal statewide. Water storage in California’s reservoirs is about 30 percent normal.
State water officials said that instead of mandatory statewide rationing, they will consider adopting a 20 percent conservation goal on Thursday.