Getting Through a Low Water Allocation Season

Getting Through a Low Water Allocation Season

Patrick Cavanaugh
Patrick Cavanaugh
The initial 5% water allocation for Federal water districts, such as the Westlands Water District is going to be a hardship for growers. It most likely will not be greater than 5% unless we have a miracle March, and many of the growers in Westlands Water District and other federal districts are growing tree crops. Jose Gutierrez is Chief Operating Officer for Westlands.

“Tree nut growers will get through it with the little Central Valley Project allocation that we received and purchasing and supplemental water,” noted Gutierrez. “If that water is available to be purchased.”

“They will also likely pump groundwater, but groundwater quality is not as good as surface water quality, and it impacts the, the health and production of almond trees and other permanent crops,” noted Gutierrez. “So, what they'll do is blend the groundwater and surface water and use that irrigate their trees.”

For those growers who also have annual crops, such as tomatoes. They'll idle that land.

“And then they will transfer the water that they would have used on those crops to their trees,” he said.

So, what this means on these low water years is a change in our infrastructure to capture whatever water we can get during heavy rain and snow years.

“We could improve our existing infrastructure like expanding existing reservoirs or building new reservoirs. So that we capture the water when it's available during big years, like 2017. And hopefully, that water can hold us over for drier years that follow,” said Gutierrez.

There is also the chance for a miracle March bringing heavy rains and snow, which has happened before!

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