AG Watch

West Side Growers Get Increased Water Supply

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Farmers on the Valley's troubled west side were relieved to learn more irrigation water will be released from the Delta. Their initial allocation was just 5% of normal. On Tuesday that figure was increased to 25%.

More irrigation water will flow into fields in Western Fresno County. Two weeks ago farmers were looking at a 5% allocation. Now they're in much better shape. Riverdale farmer Dan Errotabere said, "I think what 25% does is give a little bit more breathing room and again less reliance on groundwater which we need to preserve when we truly are dry and not regulatory dry."

The Bureau of Reclamation's increased delivery was announced by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Salazar explained, "The allocation has significantly increased due to improved precipitation and improved snowpack."

Farmers in the Westlands Water District last year dealt with a 10% delivery. District spokesperson Sarah Woolf said, "I think first and foremost people can go into their banks today and say I will have a water supply. It may not be a large amount but it provides them that security to be able to get a bank loan."

Errotabere says this is a critical time for Valley farmers who may be ready to hire workers. "We're planting tomatoes now. We're planting garlic. Spring lettuce is being contemplated so all these crops are coming up and certainly with warmer temperatures the crop demand for water increases."

While west side growers are getting just 25% of their allocation, farmers on the east side of the Valley are faring much better. The Fresno Irrigation District on Tuesday began its full allocation. Deliveries to farmers are expected to last through August.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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