California farmers will receive almost no federal water to combat what has been an extremely dry year in the drought-plagued state, a U.S. water agency announced Friday.
The low allocation comes at a time when the Sierra Nevada is historically dry and snow-water content throughout California stands at 29 percent of average for this time of year.
Michael L. Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, said the agency was looking for long-term solutions to provide relief for California’s water needs.
“This low allocation is yet another indicator of the impacts the severe drought is having on California communities, agriculture, businesses, power, and the environment,” Connor said in a statement. “We will monitor the hydrology as the water year progresses and continue to look for opportunities to exercise operational flexibility in future allocations.”
But that wasn’t enough for California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger, who said the low allocation and current water crisis is a direct result of failed policies at the state and federal levels.
"As the saying goes, you reap what you sow, and our state and federal governments have failed miserably at providing the resources and infrastructure to adapt to changing climatic conditions," Wenger said in a statement. “The extensive investments farmers and urban residents have made to increase water efficiency have not shielded us from this disaster-despite 20-plus years of assurances from environmental activists that all we needed to do was to conserve."
Water allocations are determined by runoff water levels, which have been depleted due to the unusually dry year.
The Reclamation bureau announced earlier this month that $14 million would be provided to water districts to help improve water management. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Jan. 17.