As of last week, growers in the Central Valley of California, including the Sacramento Valley, were told by federal officials to not expect any water allocation from water runoff of the snowmelt that comes from the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced the water shutoff to agriculture for California. This follows the State Water Project also predicting its agricultural customers would receive no water this year.
The result is expected to be tens of thousands of acres of rice not being planted in the Sacramento Valley as well as major crops of corn and tomatoes. As for all crops combined in California, a spokesperson for the California Farm Bureau has been quoted as saying, “We think it’s fair to estimate that up to 500,000 acres of land in the greater Central Valley will be unplanted this year.”
The Sacramento Bee online newspaper website reported the 500,000 acres is about 6 percent of all the state’s farmland, which totals about 8 million acres of irrigated land in a given year.
The report filed by the Bureau of Reclamation contends there is only 25 percent of an average snowpack in the mountains. This combines with low reservoir water levels because of drought conditions in the populated portions of California drawing water without replacement rainfall.
Urban water contractors are being hit with 40 percent to 50 percent allocations in most areas of the state.
The water availability laws and regulations in California are complicated because there is groundwater pumping and various water allocations separate from the main water sources for agriculture use because of historical contracts.