Statement by Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority on the Initial Allocation Announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation
Sacramento, CA – Today, the United States Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) announced the initial water allocation for 2021-2022. The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (“Authority”) understands that dry hydrology is the main driver in the low initial allocations for our member agencies and the communities they serve – the nearly 1.2 million acres of highly productive farmland and 3 million people, many living in economically disadvantaged communities, throughout the western San Joaquin, San Benito and Santa Clara Valleys. The Authority wishes that the initial allocation were higher, but understands that existing conditions have prohibited Reclamation from making a higher initial allocation.
“The last decade – in which California experienced the greatest drought in nearly 1,200 years between a couple of years of intense rainfall and flooding – continues to reinforce that California’s rainfall and snowpack patterns are changing and that we must shift to multi-year water management strategies to meet the diverse needs of the communities and ecosystems served by the Authority’s member agencies. The challenge before us demands long-term and sustainable solutions – we must invest in the maintenance, improvement and restoration of our critical infrastructure that serves as the backbone of California, we must increase our ability to store water during those flood years for the droughts we know will come, and we must improve the operational flexibility of our system so that vital water transfers are not being unreasonably delayed by bureaucratic hurdles.
“Healthy and sustainable food production is a national security issue and the Authority’s member agencies serve the urban and agricultural communities that grow a significant portion of the nation’s plate. As a community, region, state and country, we need to work collaboratively to improve the resilience of California’s water system in a balanced way, particularly with the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
“Authority staff will continue to work with Reclamation and its member agencies to analyze hydrologic conditions in hopes the allocation can be increased as early as practicable.”