Overall, 2019 turned out to be a conflicting year for Central Valley water users. It was another year for strong rain and snow in California, but not all farmers were able to take full advantage of the ample water supply. Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen explained that it was a year of disappointment mixed with hope for the future.
“2019 was really the two extremes,” Jacobsen noted. “The frustration of not seeing a full water allocation during a year like this year, but we also saw the release of the new biological opinions from the federal government.”
The lack of a full 100 percent water allocation for federal contractors on the Westside of Fresno County was disheartening given the amount of rain that had covered California early in the year. However, the release of new biological opinions provided a reason for optimism that the structure of water allocation might be more beneficial for farmers moving forward.
“We are still hopeful even with the litigation threat from the state of California that those new biological opinions will continue to move forward,” said Jacobsen, “and so we really are hopeful that going into the future, those are going to make some significant differences.”
Central Valley water users have been enthusiastic regarding the potential for more agreeable water management provided by updated biological opinions. The previous biological opinions that have been shaping the management of the State Water Project, as well as the Central Valley Project, have created significant challenges for farmers that rely on those water sources.
“Right now, without trying to figure out some solution of how we continue to have a reliable water source from the Delta, we’re going to wither on the vine,” Jacobsen explained. “We have had exceptional distress over the last decade because the old biological opinions just don’t work.”