The Bureau of Reclamation has released the initial water allocations for Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors for 2021. Low CVP allocations reflect drier than average winter conditions combined with lower reservoir storage for the year. While the low allocations were not a surprise, multiple water agencies expressed disappointment in the announcement.
“We anticipate that many growers throughout the south San Joaquin Valley and on the Eastside will need to rely heavily on groundwater supplies, just as they did in 2020,” the Friant Water Authority said in a written statement. “This makes our efforts to increase the availability of surface supplies to the San Joaquin Valley and to fix the Friant-Kern Canal’s capacity limitations even more critical and underscores the need for resolving the valley’s long-term water imbalance.”
As part of the CVP allocations, agricultural water users north- and south-of-Delta are being allocated five percent of their contract. Sacramento River Settlement, San Joaquin River Exchange, and San Joaquin Settlement contractors are all allocated 75 percent of their contract supply. The Friant Division Class 1 is allocated at 20 percent, and Class 2 received no allocation. Eastside water service contractors including the Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District have been allocated 100 percent of their contract totals. General Manager for Westlands Water District, Tom Birmingham said the low allocation will have a devastating impact on local communities.
“A 5% allocation, although better than zero, will result in a human and economic disaster for families on the West side of the Valley and could result in major strains for the nation’s food supply,” Birmingham said in a news release. “We urge Governor Newsom to move swiftly to mitigate the impacts of today’s announcement and help prevent the disastrous impacts of past droughts by streamlining transfers of available water, immediately reengaging on negotiations of the voluntary agreements and supporting critical water infrastructure investments to help ensure we can continue managing water efficiently, even as we face the consequences of a changing climate.”