US (CA): No Federal water 2nd year in a row

A federal agency says it will not release any water for farmers in the Central Valley of California this year, forcing them to find other sources or leave fields unplanted.

The announcement Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation marks the second consecutive year the agency will provide no water to the vast area that grows much of the nation’s produce.

The decision will force some farmers to pump scarce groundwater or leave fields bare during the drought.

People in the agriculture business say the outcome will be devastating as they continue to reel from the impacts of the ongoing drought.

The state reservoir system is providing local agencies and farmers 15 percent of the water they requested, a slight increase from last year.

Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner, Les Wright, said their unprecedented announcement of another zero allocation year will once again force more pumping of scarce ground-water supplies and again lead to the drying up of wells.

He said last year’s lack of water forced farmers to leave thousands of acres unplanted.

“We used to have somewhere around 12,000 acres of lettuce planted in the spring here and this year we’re below 3,000 acres. That’s a big impact because this time of year, that’s the only lettuce available in the nation,” Wright said.

The Sierra snowpack, which provides more than half of the state’s water supply, is less than a fifth of its average size this time of year.


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