Fresno, Calif., (March 1, 2017) – Statement by CEO Ryan Jacobsen:
“Mother Nature has provided a bountiful precipitation season-one that will be near the top of the record books. After the historic five-year drought, the snowpack and rain are a tremendous blessing to an agricultural industry hammered by the critical water shortage. Most farmers and ranchers with surface supplies will experience an increased water allocation as a result of these storms’ resurgences across the state.
“While the short-term relief of this year’s water outlook should have our industry optimistic, reality says something much different. The implications of the governmental-imposed drought continue with a vengeance. How, with reservoirs at their brim, flood releases happening by the hundreds of thousands of acre feet a day, snowpack levels in most areas 150 percent plus for this date and Delta outflows cumulatively adding up to over 24 million acre feet since October 2016, can Fresno County’s Westside federal water contractors still have no initial allocation? Historically, this announcement has come in the middle of February. And, at this point, these farmers do not even expect to reach anywhere near their contracted amount.
“Unfortunately, but as this region has come to expect, the answer is bureaucratically-related. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), under the United States Department of Commerce, has yet to complete their fisheries’ temperature management plan for Shasta Lake. While they take their time in completing this report, our Valley loses jobs and economic activity. Cropping decisions are taking place now! Farmers cannot make choices on what might be an allocation…they need real numbers. Every day that passes without an announcement, as well as anything short of a 100 percent allocation in a year like this, takes some of the world’s most fertile fields out of production. This is completely unacceptable.
“Federal water policy is failing this region. It has failed to protect fish species, and, most importantly, it has failed to provide water to the communities and businesses who need it most, even when water is plentiful.
“On the Friant system, while news of a 100 percent Class I allocation is welcomed, we are once again reminded of the importance of Temperance Flat Dam. Around 350,000 acre feet of water has already been released to date with much more flows expected this season. Over the long-term, California does receive ample precipitation, but it’s weather patterns are cyclical. Without investments in our water infrastructure, it will be economically devastating to the Valley to make it through the dry times, particularly with the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
“FCFB will continue to push for additional surface water and groundwater storage; improved conveyance through the state, specifically in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; and a return to common-sense water policies that bring back into balance water allocated for food production, municipal and rural communities, the economy and the environment.”