Food Grows Where Water Flows

For more than 25 years, the California Farm Water Coalition has been working with our members to share information about farm water issues, and reminding Californians that "Food Grows Where Water Flows."

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CFWC Blog

May 1, 2020 Letter to Governor Newsom

May 1, 2020 in CFWC Blog

May 1, 2020 Letter to Governor Newsom

Download Newsom-Ag-Letter-FINAL-May-1-2020.pdf (PDF, Unknown)


Dear Governor Newsom:

Thank you for your clear and decisive leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Your administration’s response to this crisis reflects California’s spirit of community, motivated by the innovation and individualism that makes California stronger, safer and a partner its neighbors and the nation can count on in the fight against COVID-19.

California’s agricultural community embodies that same California spirit.  Its farmers responded to COVID-19 by developing new ways to grow the nation’s food supply while protecting workers on the frontlines, keeping the state and nation fed.  California’s packing houses and distribution networks safely deliver food to every grocery store in the nation and will continue to meet the demand for abundant, nutritious food for the American people.  But as it has for all industries, the COVID-19 crisis has revealed weaknesses in agriculture that must be addressed.

California’s essential workers deserve our highest praise for helping to ensure the nation’s food supply is processed, shipped and stocked on local grocery store shelves everywhere.  Their essential work starts with the farmer and rancher, who produce the food and fiber that form the first critical link in the long and essential supply chain that ends on the grocery store shelf.  The importance of a resilient food supply was highlighted in the April 24, 2020 letter from 20 members of the Legislature who wrote to Ms. O’Leary and Mr. Steyer asking that food supply be one of the highest priorities for the Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery as they work to recreate a resilient California economy.

Unlike other essential industries, farmers and ranchers work on nature’s schedule. They must start planning production operations a year in advance.  Farmers’ crops must be planted, watered, tended, and harvested based on the seasons.  Farmers cannot speed up the growth of lettuce, tomatoes, corn, or oranges.  There is no way to “catch-up” if fewer crops are planted this year.  What is planted this spring is the food supply this fall and next year.

To ensure next year’s food supply keeps grocery store shelves full it is essential that California’s farmers have all the tools they need to grow the crops they are planting now. Unfortunately, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has failed to consider the importance of these necessary tools.

A reliable water supply is at the top of this list of tools farmers need to grow the food that will appear in grocery stores later this summer, this fall and next year.  Making sure farmers have the water to grow next year’s food supply is as important as making sure grocery store shelves are stocked today.

California’s farmers need access to as much water as the state can provide this year.  Unfortunately, the current water year has been dry, with very little rain and limited snowpack in the upper watersheds. This discouraging hydrology is compounded by restrictions on use of groundwater and surface water supplies.  Our farmers are left with few options. Unfortunately, the dry hydrology cannot be changed. However, government-imposed restrictions can accommodate farmers’ needs.  We urge you to direct state agencies to find creative and balanced means to maximize water supplies for farmers. Where possible, rules that limit farm water supplies should be suspended, modified, or postponed during this critical time.

We reiterate the message conveyed in recent letters from members of the California Congressional delegation and urge your administration to work cooperatively with the federal administration on water management. A cooperative federal-state management scheme should be applied in all those critical watersheds where the federal government has made significant investments, from the Klamath River, to the Bay-Delta and the Colorado River. In this way, we can be assured that state and federal water management coordination is maximizing water supplies while respecting our state’s commitment to the environment.  As your administration has recognized in other areas, cooperation between the state and federal administrations is the best way to solve the new and unprecedented challenges we face.  Improved state-federal coordination on water issues also will help ensure California’s farmers are efficiently and responsibly using the state’s limited resources to maximize the crops they grow this year.

The undersigned respectfully request that you take the necessary steps to help secure next year’s food supply.  We urge you to direct your agencies and departments to find ways to maximize water supplies for farmers this year, until such time that we can normalize the food supply chain from farmer to grocery store shelf.

California also needs to ensure that its farmers continue producing a safe, healthy and abundant food supply into the future.  We recommend the following outline for state and federal stimulus efforts to ensure they address the water supply infrastructure that serves California’s farmers and supports the future of our state and national food supply.

Repair and modernize existing water supply and conveyance infrastructure –Climate change, drought and regulation have reduced the water supply once available to farmers.  And, when excess water is available, we are missing opportunities to capture and move it simply because our water delivery infrastructure is broken.  Subsidence on the state’s major water delivery canals is one example.

Subsidence along segments of the California Aqueduct, Delta-Mendota Canal and Friant-Kern Canal has significantly reduced the amount of water that can get to our farmers.  Repairing these three canals will improve water supplies to more than two million acres of agricultural land growing more than 200 different crops that create jobs for more than 131,000 people in the underserved Central Valley.  In addition, downstream jobs in other parts of the state associated with these same two million acres employ another 39,000 people.  These repair projects are “shovel ready” and construction can begin immediately.  They simply require funding support.   Local agricultural water agencies are ready to pay their share, but the costs are high and state and federal funding assistance is critically needed. Funding these shovel-ready projects will create jobs, protect our food supply and provide value back to the state for generations.

Accelerate and Support Existing Programs – Researchers at Columbia University recently identified the current dry period facing California as one of the worst in a millennium.  This historic drought period is compounded by state-driven institutional actions, including: 1)  regulatory programs which seek to reduce groundwater use under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA); 2)  a state lawsuit against the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Commerce; and 3)  a new permit issued to the State Water Project that reduces water supplies beyond what is necessary to protect species under the Endangered Species Act.  We believe California can find ways to turn these negative impacts on farming into positives by: 1) reconsidering the state’s legal action against biological opinions that protect endangered fish; 2)  providing funding to build water projects capable of replacing groundwater supplies lost to SGMA; and 3) reconsidering the scientific foundation of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recently issued Incidental Take Permit for the State Water Project (SWP).

The State of California also has an important role to play in the future of farming in the Klamath Basin, which straddles the state border with Oregon.  Thanks to the formal request made by you and Oregon Governor Kate Brown, the Department of Interior will provide some welcome emergency drought assistance in 2020 that will benefit wildlife and mitigate many individuals’ conditions.  But the situation is very unstable and the community is ridden by uncertainty and anxiety.  In the immediate term, California could provide funding for the California portion (Tulelake Irrigation District) of Klamath Project-wide infrastructure assessments for modernization and optimization, as the Oregon Energy Trust has done in the Oregon portions of the Project.

Current water conservation programs are periodically funded through water bonds and can improve agricultural water supplies by making water conservation measures more affordable for farmers.  While these types of demand management programs do not make new water available, they can help stretch existing water supplies.  Any new infrastructure stimulus bill should include significant funding that incentivizes farmers to further employ state-of-the-art on-farm water conservation technology that would otherwise be unaffordable.

Expand Current Water Supply Infrastructure – California has several options for expanding the capacity of existing water supply infrastructure. These modernization and expansion projects can create jobs in the near term and support rural agricultural economies over the long-term.  For example, repair and enlargement of B.F. Sisk Dam and enlargement of Shasta Dam can increase surface water storage without adding new dams on any river.  The impacts of these expanded reservoirs can be mitigated in ways that increase protections for endangered species by providing additional cold water and creating more flexible pumping operations that can be modified to protect fish at sensitive times.  New storage facilities such as Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Reservoir can provide significant new water supplies for rural economies while adding benefits for native species in the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, and the Delta.

On the Klamath River, Oregon and California have led an unprecedented effort to remove water infrastructure considered to be outdated (four private hydroelectric dams).  A return to an equivalent focus on irrigation infrastructure, groundwater recharge opportunities, strategic storage, and facilities upgrades is equally important, and there are willing partners in the Klamath Project and elsewhere in the Klamath watershed.

Our state stands at a historic crossroads. We believe that the California spirit is evident in the leadership shown by your office and the willingness of Californians to change their way of life for the good of all.  We are honored to be part of that effort and proud to produce the food that feeds the state, our nation, and many other countries.  Now is the time to take a second step in our response to COVID-19 by protecting the ability of the state’s farmers to keep grocery store shelves stocked with safe, healthy food grown in California.  We respectfully request that your administration look for every possible way to increase water supplies to farmers to ensure this year’s crop meets next year’s need.

Sincerely,

 

African American Farmers of California
Ag Council of California
Alameda County Farm Bureau
Amador County Farm Bureau
American Pistachio Growers
Association of California Egg Farmers
Bill Diedrich, Diedrich Farms, Firebaugh
Bob Amarel, Yuba City
Butte County Farm Bureau
California Agricultural Irrigation Association
California Alfalfa and Forage Association
California Apple Commission
California Association of Wheat Growers
California Bean Shippers Association
California Blueberry Commission
California Citrus Mutual
California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association
California Farm Bureau Federation
California League of Food Processors
California Safflowers Growers
California Tomato Growers Association
California Warehouse Association
California Wild Rice Advisory Board
California Women for Agriculture
Central Valley Project Water Association
Colusa County Farm Bureau
Contra Costa County Farm Bureau
Del Norte County Farm Bureau
Del Puerto Water District
El Dorado County Farm Bureau
Elephant Butte Irrigation District
Family Farm Alliance
Family Water Alliance
Far West Equipment Dealers Association
Fresno County Farm Bureau
Glenn County Farm Bureau
Joe Del Bosque, Del Bosque Farms, Firebaugh
Kern County Farm Bureau
Kings County Farm Bureau
Klamath Water Users Association
Lassen County Farm Bureau
Liz Hudson, Hudson Farms, Sanger
Madera County Farm Bureau
Mark Borba, Borba Farms, Riverdale
Mark McKean, Riverdale
Merced County Farm Bureau
Milk Producers Council
Modoc County Farm Bureau
Neil Jones Food Company
Nevada County Farm Bureau
Nisei Farmers League
Olive Growers Council of California
Orange County Farm Bureau
Placer County Farm Bureau
Sacramento County Farm Bureau
San Diego County Farm Bureau
San Joaquin County Farm Bureau
San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau
Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau
Shasta County Farm Bureau
Siskiyou County Farm Bureau
Sonoma County Farm Bureau
Stan Lester, Lester Farms, Winters
Stanislaus Irrigation District
Tehama County Farm Bureau
Trinity County Farm Bureau
Tulare County Farm Bureau
Tulelake Irrigation District
Wayne Western, Clovis
Western Agricultural Processors Association
Western Canal Water District
Western Growers Association
William Bourdeau, Chairman, California Water Alliance
Yolo County Farm Bureau

On the farm, every day is Earth Day

April 22, 2020 in CFWC Blog

On the farm, every day is Earth Day

Scientific Study + Proven Results = Smarter Water Management and Greater Reliability for All Californians

Every Californian knows that water policies should be balanced to help support fish populations and the environment, productive farmland, businesses, and people. That’s not happening because decade-old science is embedded in a top-down regulatory system that lacks the ability to incorporate new science as it becomes available.

Birds with OverlayThe good news is there is a clear path forward that will lead to a more secure water future for all Californians. Science has been telling us for some time that fish need more than water to survive – habitat improvements, predator control and food supply are also critically important.

 

And we have results to prove it works

Partnerships to Implement New Science on Butte Creek Turned 100 Salmon into 10,000

Working together, farmers, urban water users and conservationists made improvements to Ducks with Overlayfish passage, fish food production and habitat for juvenile salmon as well as more water at the time fish needed it the most.  The result has been a dramatic increase in returning salmon from as low as 100 to an average of 10,000 annually. Birds and other species have also benefitted.

Dos Rios Ranch Ecosystem Restoration. Another example of a large-scale ecosystem restoration is happening across 2,100 acres where the San Joaquin and Tuolumne Rivers meet. Spearheaded by River Partners and joined by a large group of partners from government, agriculture and environmental groups, it seeks to create a “habitat preserve that goes far beyond single-species or single-suite focus.” Improvements include fish screens, re-establishing native vegetation and managing the floodplain to benefit fish. Salmon that are allowed to linger in managed fields, grow faster, stronger and more vigorous than those without respite from currents.

Operation FatFish – Scientists Teamed Up with Farms to Produce a New Food Supply for Fish

Sunset on field 2If salmon are malnourished, they’re not strong enough to reach the Pacific Ocean and populations decline. Partnering with scientists at UC Davis and CalTrout, farms have been flooding fields in the winter in order to grow bugs fish depend on for food and then re-connecting these floodplains to the river. Results from Operation FatFish have shown an increase in growth and health of salmon inside seasonally flooded rice fields. In addition, these managed wetlands support millions of waterfowl, shorebirds and other waterbirds along the Pacific Flyway.

Boulders & Branches – Experiments with Fish Habitat Have Produced Improving Salmon Populations

River Garden Farms created 25 fish habitat shelters made of almond trunks and walnut tree root wads. These were bolted to 12,000-pound limestone boulders and dropped into the river. The roots and branches are designed to help juvenile winter-run chinook survive by serving as a shield against swift river flows and predators. A survey conducted by wildlife biologist Dave Vogel revealed a large school of juvenile salmon had taken to the tree roots. Salmon were finding refuge and populations improving.

Gravel Mining Reach Project. Another larger-scale riparian habitat restoration is in process on the Tuolumne River.

Because of its length, the project is being completed in phases. The first of four phases was finished in 2003. When complete, it will establish a lengthy river channel and riparian floodway that will provide safe habitat for fish.

Biologists Urged Restoration of Spawning Grounds, Leading to Successful Collaborative Projects

Over time some traditional salmon spawning grounds have been filled in. One example is Painter’s Riffle, a side-channel on the Sacramento River that successfully produced fish nests resulting in up to 750,000 young salmon since the 1980’s. When a major storm filled in the channel, farms, water districts and government agencies partnered to open it again. Speaking of a similar project, the Market Street Habitat Project, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Biologist John Hannon said, “These projects are an important part of helping our local fish populations weather the drought conditions and recover in the future.”

Additional Spawning Habitat Restorations Completed Elsewhere. In 2007, thirty-three riffles were created as spawning habitat on the Stanislaus River as part of the Lover’s Leap Restoration Project. In 2015, 7.2 acres of spawning and rearing habitat were rehabilitated on the Merced River as part of the Henderson Park Project.

 

Obviously, fish need water, but what science has shown us is that water alone is not the answer.

Water Landscape with overlay

By following the path that science has laid out for us, we can improve the environment while increasing water availability and reliability for all California water users.

It Is Time to Modernize Our Water Supply Infrastructure

April 21, 2020 in CFWC Blog, Releases

It Is Time to Modernize Our Water Supply Infrastructure

“Today’s letters by over 150 agricultural organizations and water interests to President Trump and Congress underscores the need for investments in our water supply infrastructure to protect the nation’s food supply

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how much we all depend on a reliable food supply chain. Making sure farmers are prepared to feed the country tomorrow is only possible if we make smart investments in our water supply system today.”

“Simply put, farmers need water to grow the food we all depend on. Many of the facilities that supply water to farms, rural, and urban communities were built more than 50 years ago and are unable to meet the needs of an increasing population without investments to keep them operating.”

 

Statement by Water and Agricultural Interests

(Washington, D.C.) – A coalition of 150 organizations representing water and agricultural interests in the western U.S. urged Congress and President Trump today to address aging Western water infrastructure as further measures are considered to help the U.S. economy recover from the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of safety and stability provided by domestic food production,” the groups stated in separate letters to Congress and the president. “As this crisis has pointed out, a stable domestic food supply is essential and of national security interest. For farmers and ranchers to survive, and for food to continue to be produced here in the American West, a stable water supply is a necessary part of any conversation about our national food security.”
 
President Trump has stated his belief that renewed efforts to meet the systemic infrastructure demands of the nation will be an important step in combating the long-term impacts of the pandemic.
 
“We strongly agree,” the organizations stated in the letter to the White House. “In particular, we urge you to advance critically needed investments that address the shortcomings of our aging Western water infrastructure.”
 
Existing water infrastructure in the West needs rehabilitation and improvement. Most of the federally funded water infrastructure projects that benefit the large cities, rural communities and small farms in the West were built more than 50 years ago. As hydrological conditions in the West change and populations continue to expand, failure to address water security has become increasingly critical.
 
“Failing to improve water infrastructure and develop supplies will inevitably result in additional conflict as pressure grows to ‘solve’ urban and environmental water shortages,” the groups stated in the letter to Congress. “Moving water away from Western irrigated agriculture will surely contribute to the decline of our national food security.”
 
The coalition letters-spearheaded by the California Farm Bureau Federation, Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers-emphasize that water conservation, water recycling, watershed management, conveyance, desalination, water transfers, groundwater storage and surface storage are all needed in a diversified management portfolio.
 
“If and when additional infrastructure funding is discussed as part of a larger economic stimulus package, we need your help to ensure that federal dollars flow to the water infrastructure needs mentioned above,” the letters conclude.

Funding Shovel-Ready Water Projects Can Help California Recover More Quickly

April 15, 2020 in CFWC Blog

Funding Shovel-Ready Water Projects Can Help California Recover More Quickly

As the news cautiously turns to a discussion of getting back to work, we’re all trying to envision, and plan for, what our new world will look like.

In California, one issue we still must deal with is ensuring an adequate water supply for people, farms and the environment.

And while there are hopeful signs of a new, cooperative path forward between all water users, putting a new policy structure in place is just part of the solution. The good news is, there are things that can be done to improve our existing infrastructure that could produce benefits now.

As the federal government considers another round of stimulus legislation one of the things on the table is a list of shovel-ready water projects. Californians are used to thinking of water projects as massive undertakings that could be in process for decades. And while these larger projects are still important, there are a host of smaller projects, ready to go, that could make an immediate difference in the state’s water supply – if only they had funding.

Much of our existing water infrastructure is aging and in need of repair. Some of the fixes would be small in overall dollars when you consider the breadth of the federal stimulus effort, but significant in terms of benefit.

Install Concrete Canal Linings

Many of our canals that move water around the state were built decades ago. California loses a significant amount of water when it seeps out of these aging conveyances. Lining canals with concrete could save thousands of acre-feet of water. One proposed project estimates that lining 10,000 linear feet of canal would save 5,000 acre-feet of water every year. That’s enough water to meet the household needs of 60,000 people or produce 166 million salads.

Repair Cracks in Tunnels

Tunnels have carried water throughout California for more than a century and are another example of water conveyance in need of repair. As they age and develop cracks, we can lose significant amounts of water. Repairing those existing tunnels can be accomplished relatively quickly and could save a lot of water that would otherwise simply be lost.

Fix Gates and Other Water-Control Mechanisms at Dams and Reservoirs

Water stored in reservoirs is managed with gates and valves that regulate its flow. But when the parts of these structures begin to wear and start leaking, that leaked portion of our water supply is no longer efficiently managed. Making overdue repairs to ensure this vital infrastructure doesn’t leak is just common sense.

Increase Storage Capacity of Existing Structures

Californians have witnessed the shifting weather patterns in our state. When precipitation does come down, we’re seeing a tendency towards more rain and less snow. And our water years tend to boomerang between very wet and very dry, making water storage even more critical. Capturing water in wet years for use when it gets dry is something the public supports, and it can take decades to plan and build the infrastructure we need. While larger projects are in process, there are things we can do to increase storage now. One of them is increasing the storage capacity of existing dams, which is cost-effective and can bring quicker results.

Fish Screens and Other Environmental Protections

Increasing our ability to protect fish allows us to more safely move the water so desperately needed by all Californians. The science behind fish screens shows us they work and installing them on rivers is an investment in both water supply and the environment.

California farmers produce more than 50 percent of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables and we’ve seen throughout the coronavirus pandemic how critical it is to keep our food supply moving from farm to grocery store. Supporting these cost-effective, timely, common-sense measures will help make our water supply more reliable for all Californians. And that’s something we can all get behind.

Moving Forward With Modern Science and Smart Management- Biological Opinions in 2020

March 11, 2020 in CFWC Blog, Water Supply

Moving Forward With Modern Science and Smart Management- Biological Opinions in 2020

New Federal Biological Opinions Utilize the Latest Science to Benefit Fish and Other Water Users

One thing all Californians know for certain is that our current system of managing water isn’t working for anyone.

Over the past decade, struggling fish populations have continued to decline, farms have been forced to fallow land, and cities and towns face ever-tightening restrictions.

Meanwhile, endless lawsuits tie up progress in court, further locking our failing system into place.

In an effort to break the policy logjam, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently updated federal biological opinions (BiOps) which are rules that exist to protect endangered, and threatened species in the San Francisco Bay-Delta region while also meeting the water supply needs of Californian’s farms, businesses and our people.

Let’s be clear – because the old rules are based on science that is now over a decade old, these failed rules badly needed updating. We must act now to adopt smart solutions, and modern science to prepare for our changing world.

It’s past time to update our policies and take actions that can produce a more secure water future for all Californians.

Here are a just a few reasons we should all welcome this policy update:

Embraces modern science and provides the ability to continuously update the science and use it to adapt rules as necessary

Science has been steadily progressing while the old rules were in effect. However, the process to incorporate new findings into existing rules simply didn’t exist. The new BiOps not only incorporate 10 years of study, they put in place adaptive management to help keep the rules up to date as we go. To keep us from once again letting rules get outdated while struggling species suffer, the new Biological Opinions allow for ongoing scientific review as well as independent evaluation by outside experts.

Adopts smart, data-based tools to help struggling species, using real-time monitoring rather than an arbitrary calendar date

Would you rather have a doctor treat you for symptoms they see or provide medication simply because the calendar says it’s flu season? Exactly.

Under the old rules, a calendar dictated when water was moved through the system or withheld. This rigid, arbitrary approach that often ignored what was actually happening in California’s delta. Under the new BiOps, scientists will monitor conditions, and officials must account for fish needs in real-time and base pumping decisions on the actual conditions witnessed. Plus, there is a commitment to reduce pumping when sensitive species are present. We believe this new approach will provide better protection for fish and is part of a broader strategy to improve their chance of a full recovery.

Pays for new tools to help fish thrive

One of the things science has taught us over the last decade is that water is just one of many factors impacting the health of fish populations. Improving habitat, increasing food supply, and enhancing predator control also play significant roles.

Under the new biological opinions, $1.5 billion will be spent on fishery improvements that scientists have shown can benefit our native species. That includes investments in habitat, restored spawning grounds and side channels in rivers and streams that are important to the salmon life cycle. Other measures will be put in place specifically for Delta smelt.

Not only did the old rules provide none of this assistance, they were not even allowed to consider these critical factors.

In terms of water, the new rules will increase the amount of cold water stored behind Shasta Dam in order to maintain healthy temperatures for spawning salmon in times of drought.

Provides more supply to California’s water users AND better protects struggling fish

Opponents claim that the new rules are bad simply because they provide more water for farms, businesses, cities and towns. But as with the existing BiOps, that is an outdated way of viewing the situation. Water supply in California does not have to be a zero-sum game. Thanks to improved science we have found better ways to protect fish while also providing additional supply to other water users.

Why all Californians should care about these rules

Getting these rules right impacts the entire state. Water from the federally-run Central Valley Project delivers enough water to meet the needs of 1 million California households, over 3 million acres of some of the most productive farmland in the world and over a million acre-feet of water for fish and wildlife and their habitat, including state and federal wildlife refuges and wetlands. The State Water Project serves the water needs of 750,000 acres of productive farmland and part of the domestic water supply for two-thirds of all Californians.

Having the new rules in place will provide greater flexibility within the entire system, producing greater reliability of supply for all.

Where do we go from here?

As exciting and forward-looking as the new BiOps are, they are one piece of a very complicated water puzzle. Federal, state and local governments must continue to work with all water users to bring our entire water management system up-to-date.

Statement by Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition on the Initial Allocation Announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation

February 25, 2020 in CFWC Blog, Releases, Water Allocations, Water Supply

Statement by Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition on the Initial Allocation Announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation

February 25, 2020

“Today’s announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation of a 15 percent initial allocation for water supplies south of the Delta is clearly the result of the dry hydrology California is experiencing. February is shaping up to be possibly the first time in recorded history without any measurable precipitation. That alone is evidence that California may be on the leading edge of another drought.

“These dry conditions are similar to what we saw in 2009. For months farmers were not given an allocation amount and told they may get zero water. In April of that year, well past the time to make effective planting decisions, the allocation was set at 10 percent.

“The new biological opinions implemented last week are already making a difference by allocating 15 percent in February. We’re obviously hopeful that allocations will rise, but we’re pleased to be off to a better start than we were under the old operating rules.

“Had the new biological opinions been in place last year we believe an additional 1 million acre-feet of water could have been stored for use this year, delivering more water and offering better species protection, based on what we’ve learned over the past 10 years studying the Delta and its tributaries.

“That kind of operational flexibility is essential for California to remain the nation’s leading farm state and to continue to produce more than half of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the U.S. as well as vast amounts of dairy, beef and nursery products.”