Los Banos, CA – Today’s announcement that south-of-delta CVP water supplies have increased from 55% to 65%, while positive, is disappointing in a water year like this. There is every indication that California water supplies are abundant and yet the system is unable to deliver sufficient supplies when they’re needed. That means the farms that produce a significant portion of the nation’s food supply, important wildlife refuges, and the municipal and industrial water users in the Silicon Valley can’t count on receiving reliable water supplies from year to year.
This reflects the regulatory challenges water managers face when making allocation decisions. The inability to allocate full contract supplies in one of the best water years in the historical record points to how broken our water system currently is. Water management decisions are based on a regulatory regime that is inflexible and a lack of investment in storage and conveyance infrastructure means we cannot capture water in years of abundance and at a time when it is less harmful to the environment. We want to work with Reclamation on determining what it is exactly that is preventing a larger allocation. We need to streamline the regulatory process as well as invest in infrastructure.
Nature has given us abundant water supplies this year. There is no question that existing regulations are not achieving their intended goals for the environment. It’s time to try something new. President Roosevelt started building this great water project 80 years ago. Its management over the last 25 years has crippled its ability to serve 1.2 million acres of California farms, 2 million urban water users, and 200,000 acres of managed wetlands in the Pacific Flyway.