Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Water supply improvements in the San Joaquin Valley

Water supply improvements in the San Joaquin Valley

June 8, 2009 | Posted by Spreck Rosekrans in Water Supply

Spreck Rosekrans Spreck Rosekrans is an Economic Analyst at EDF.

Anybody reading newspapers or watching television news over the last two months has heard frightening stories of water shortages that threaten the viability of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. But information compiled by the California Department of Water Resources reveals that in 2009 water supply in most parts of the valley will be in excess of 80% of average.

Central Valley Project deliveries to Westlands Water District, for example, were forecast to be zero as recently as March. Westlands now projects they expect to use 86% of average annual supplies this year. Their total supply is a combination of deliveries from the Delta, water banked last year, groundwater pumping and purchases.

The data, compiled last month by the Department of Water Resources and based on a series of interviews with staff from each of the districts, was attached to a letter from DWR Director Lester Snow to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein on May 15 . As the table notes, the information is subject to change.

The information paints a very different picture for agriculture this year than we have seen reported this spring. The water shortages are much lower than previously reported. This year's supplies do, of course, rely on levels of groundwater pumping that would not be possible every year. Still, one can only conclude that the water supply situation is not as dire as previously reported and that San Joaquin Valley farms will still be able to grow food for our kitchen tables this year.

Table with water numbers

While the allocation is up notice that there is a large amount of land lying fallow.

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