Friant Division Contractors Getting More Water

Brian German Agri-Business, Water

In a recent announcement from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), Friant Division contractors will be receiving an increased water allocation.  USBR has doubled the Class 1 allocation to 40 percent for Friant Division Central Valley Project contracts for the 2020 contract year.  The initial allocations that were announced in February had incorporated some of the operational flexibility afforded by the latest biological opinions.

friant division contractors

“Given the relatively dry conditions throughout the state, this update is welcome news. The increase will allow Friant contractors to stretch their limited CVP water supplies further into the growing season,” Area Manager of USBR’s South-Central California Area Office Michael Jackson said in a news release.  “At the same time, the increase will reduce energy costs and potential subsidence concerns associated with the over-pumping of the groundwater basin that occurred during the most recent drought.”

Supplies for the Friant Division come from water delivered from Millerton Lake through Friant Dam to the Madera Canal and Friant-Kern Canal, which provide water to 15,000 family farms and several cities in the Central Valley.  Friant Water Authority CEO Jason Phillips expressed his appreciation of the increased allocation over Twitter, noting that it “will help save some small farms from going under this year and will also reduce groundwater overdraft.”

USBR took many factors into consideration before updating the allocation amount, such as the current operational conditions of Millerton Reservoir and the Upper San Joaquin River Basin.  Canal schedules from Friant Division contractors were also included in the decision-making process.  Water supplies under the Friant Division have two different classifications.  Class 1 water supplies are considered the first 800,000 acre-feet of available water supply.  Class 2, which is still at zero percent allocation, is classified as the next amount of available water up to 1.4 million acre-feet.

Updates to allocations will continue to be made as conditions change and the water year progresses.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West