Citing drought, US won’t give water to California farmers

By Adam Beam at the Associate Press

February 23, 2022

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With California entering the third year of severe drought, federal officials said Wednesday they won’t deliver any water to farmers in the state’s major agricultural region — a decision that will force many to plant fewer crops in the fertile soil that yields the bulk of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables.

“It’s devastating to the agricultural economy and to those people that rely on it,” said Ernest Conant, regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. “But unfortunately we can’t make it rain.”

The federal government operates the Central Valley Project in California, a complex system of dams, reservoirs and canals. It’s one of two major water systems the state relies on for agriculture, drinking water, and the environment. The other system is run by the state government.

Water agencies contract with the federal government for certain amounts of water each year. In February, the federal government announces how much of those contracts can be fulfilled based on how much water is available. The government then updates the allocations throughout the year based on conditions.

Farmers started last year with a 5% allocation from the federal government but ended at 0% as the drought intensified. This year, the federal government is starting farmers at 0% while water for other purposes, including drinking and industrial uses, is at 25%.

“Last year was a very bad year. This year could turn out to be worse,” Conant said.

Read more at ABC News

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