Sacramento – Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) and several other Central Valley legislators last night sent the following letter to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior requesting that Central Valley Project contractors receive a 100% allocation of water this year:
March 21, 2017
The Honorable Ryan Zinke, Secretary
United States Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Dear Secretary Zinke:
As we’re sure you know, California’s water supply has changed dramatically in the last 12 months.
The amount of water in storage has increased to near, at or above capacity in almost every reservoir in the state as referenced in the attached California Department of Water Resources (DWR) March 16 “Reservoir Conditions” graph: (http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/products/rescond.pdf).
The attached March 1 snowpack update from DWR states:
“The water content of the northern Sierra snowpack is 39.2 inches, 159 percent of the multi-decade March 1 average. The central and southern Sierra readings are 49.0 inches (191 percent of average) and 46.4 inches (201 percent of average) respectively.” (http://www.water.ca.gov/news/newsreleases/2017/030117_snow_survey_release.pdf).
Given the amount of water in the water system, we believe all Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors should receive a 100% allocation of water for 2017. Many farmers, farm workers and communities that rely on the CVP for water supply received only a 20% allocation in 2013, no allocation in 2014 and 2015, and only a 5% allocation in 2016 despite a normal rainfall that year and available water in state reservoirs.
In addition to the negative impact on farmers and farm workers, the withholding of water has also caused hardship for families throughout the region, contributing to the region’s higher unemployment and poverty rates. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been fallowed which has reduced production at food processing facilities, decreased business for transportation companies and resulted in an overall downturn in direct and indirect businesses that supply or serve the agriculture industry.
As we all know, one of the original purposes of the CVP was to bring surface water to areas of California that needed water so those areas would not be forced to use groundwater. Because of the federal government’s decision to limit water deliveries since 2011, farmers and other water users have been forced to tap into groundwater to prevent their trees and crops from dying, which in turn cause subsidence.
This year’s water supply allows the purpose of the CVP to be fully achieved. Full allocation for all contractors will help restore some job and business losses that resulted from the past five years when water was withheld from our communities.
The federal government’s determination regarding this year’s allocation for CVP contractors, when water is abundant, will be a clear indication of whether the system is functional and can provide the water resources as originally intended or if the system remains hopelessly broken and in need of major reforms.
Given your extensive resources background, wide range of experiences and your particular knowledge of geology, we are confident you will make the right decision for those of us living and working in the Central Valley, which is also known as the food basket of the world.
Thank you for your consideration.
Senate District 14
Senate District 16
Senate District 12
Senate District 8
Assembly District 5
Assembly District 31
Assembly District 23
Assembly District 26
Assembly District 21
Assembly District 12
Assembly District 34