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FRESNO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today the Bureau of Reclamation announced an increased allocation to 70
percent for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project agricultural water
service contractors.

This increase is welcome, however, given continued wet hydrologic
conditions and current Central Valley Project (CVP) reservoir storage,
which is well above the long-term average, it is difficult to comprehend
why the allocation remains below 100 percent.

Thomas Birmingham, Westlands Water District’s General Manager, stated:
“the 2019 water year will go down as one of the wettest years on record.
Reclamation’s inability to provide south-of-Delta CVP water service
contractors with full contract supplies is further evidence of the
draconian impact ineffective regulations have had on water supplies for
people. These regulations, theoretically intended to protect at-risk
fish species, have strangled water supplies while continuously failing
to provide effective protection for the species – all of which have
continued to decline.

It is for this reason Reclamation has reinitiated consultation on the
long-term operation of the Central Valley Project and the State Water
Project. This consultation enables the development of new biological
opinions based on science developed over the last decade. It is the
District’s greatest hope these new biological opinions will abandon
restrictions on CVP operations that are unsupported by science and lead
to absurd water supply reductions. The new biological opinions must
protect at-risk fish species from the risk of extinction without
unreasonably tying the hands of project operators. The best science
currently available has demonstrated that both of these objectives can
be accomplished simultaneously.”

Birmingham added, “Decisions that affect CVP water allocations are not
the product of some objective formula. Rather, these decisions reflect
the exercise of discretion by agency staff, and these decisions affect
people and the environment. These decisions affect how much land farmers
can plant, how many people will be employed on farms, and how much
consumers will pay for food produced by farmers and the people they
employ. These decisions affect businesses and communities in every
region of the San Joaquin Valley. These decisions affect how much
groundwater will be pumped from overdrafted groundwater basins.

I know that Reclamation staff understands the consequences of the
decisions they make. This understanding is demonstrated by their
diligent work to revise biological opinions that have produced no
tangible benefits for at-risk fish species and have decimated its
ability to supply water. The District hopes its colleagues in other
federal and state agencies understand and consider the effects on people
caused by their exercise of discretion. Further, the District hopes that
as a result of work being done by these government officials on the new
biological opinions and on voluntary agreements to address the
reasonable protection of beneficial uses of water for fish and wildlife
in the Bay-Delta watershed, future operations of the CVP will be
sufficiently flexible to meet the water supply needs of people.”

Westlands Water District is the largest agricultural water district
in the United States, made up of more than 1,000 square miles of prime
farmland in western Fresno and Kings Counties. Westlands provides water
to 700 family-owned farms that average 653 acres in size.


Diana Giraldo
(559) 241-6233
Westlands Water District