Even in Dry Year, Valley Farmers See a Bump in Water Allocation

Farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta received some welcome news on Tuesday.

After a set of spring storms in April, water allocations from the Central Valley Project are increasing almost across the board at a rate of 5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced.

Water users on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley will see a five percent increase in water allocation – from 15 to 20 percent of their contracted amount.

Municipal and industrial users, similarly, saw a five percent bump to 70 percent of their contracted amount of water.

Feds Ink Deal with Water District Tied to Bernhardt

The Trump administration on Friday awarded a permanent water delivery contract to the country’s largest agricultural district, brushing aside environmentalists’ concerns about California’s uncertain water future in the face of climate change.

At issue is irrigation water that flows through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project to the Westlands Water District, a Rhode Island-sized agricultural powerhouse and former client of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Reclamation cast the agreement as a good deal: In return for a contract that lasts in perpetuity, Westlands pays off its debt for the Central Valley Project construction much faster. As of Sept. 30, 2018, Westlands owed about $480.7 million to the federal government.