U.S. Water News Online
FRESNO, Calif. — Many farmers, cities and industries in California that buy water from the federal government can expect to get a little more this summer.
The Bureau of Reclamation says recent storms will allow them to boost the amount of water shipped to customers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
But farmers on the San Joaquin Valley's parched west side still will receive none of their federal water allotments this year. The cutbacks have already led to jobs losses, fallowed fields and water rationing.
A recent study from the University of California, Davis estimated that $1.6 billion in agriculture-related wages and as many as 60,000 jobs across the valley will be lost in the coming months due to dwindling water.
Up to two-thirds of the 600,000 acres in Westlands Water District will be left barren this year, said Sarah Woolf, a spokeswoman for the district, which provides irrigation to about 600 valley farms.
More than half of the normal lettuce crop grown in the district won't be planted, and there will be a significant drop in cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus crops as well, Woolf said.
February rain and snow storms boosted reservoirs and brought the Sierra Nevada snowpack to about 90 percent of normal.
Still, state officials warn California remains in a dangerous drought. Water also must be reserved for fish in the fragile delta ecosystem.