On April 1, 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) announced the initial Central Valley Project (“CVP”) allocation for 2016. While Eastside Contractors will receive no water due to the lack of available CVP supplies from New Melones Reservoir, all other users are seeing improvement from their 2015 allocations.
For 2016, all North-of-Delta, in-Delta, and refuge contractors will receive 100% allocations; South-of-Delta agriculture will receive 5% and M&I 55%.
Friant Class 1 was initially allocated 30%, with an additional 100,000 AF of Uncontrolled Season Supply available for delivery by May 1 and 85,000 AF of Unreleased Restoration Flow available for delivery by May 15. The additional water was made available to avert flood management concerns. Friant Class 1 was increased to 40% on April 11 and to 50% on April 21.
In 2015, M&I water users received 25% allocations, and settlement contractors and refuges received 75%. All other users—North-of-Delta and South-of-Delta agricultural contractors, Friant Contractors, and the Eastside Contractors—received 0% allocations.
In response to the allocation announcement, Westlands Water District released a statement saying that the 5% allocation “clearly illustrates the degree to which the once-lauded Central Valley Project is broken.” The district points out that agricultural contractors north of the Delta are not more senior than ones south of the Delta; yet the North-of-Delta agricultural contractors are getting full allocations, while South-of-Delta contractors are getting only 5%. Westlands expects the slim water supply to again lead to fallowing of more than 200,000 acres.
In 2015, Westlands fallowed more than 200,000 acres and paid a high price to lease supplemental water for the land that was in production (see “Westlands Again Pays High Price For Supplemental Water Due To Drought,” JOW March 2016).
Written by Marta L. Weismann