What is in this article?:
- Six Northern California irrigation districts promised full irrigation allotment
- Other regions of state still at zero-percent allocation
California water plan focused heavily on environmental needs for water
Some Northern California rice growers will see a full allotment of irrigation water this year thanks to late-season storms in the Feather River watershed.
Six Northern California irrigation districts that serve growers on roughly 150,000 acres of farmland in the northern Sacramento Valley are on notice that they will receive 100 percent of their surface water allocations from the Feather River this year.
The announcement comes in the wake of storms that added as much as 1.2 million acre feet of storage over the course of several weeks in two major Northern California reservoirs: Shasta and Oroville.
“It’s a good announcement,” said Colleen Cecil, executive director of the Butte County Farm Bureau. “It means those growers won’t be pulling from the aquifer to irrigate their crops.”
The districts impacted largely produce rice and tree crops. The largest if these is the Western Canal Water District which serves 125 growers and 60,000 acres of farmland in Butte County.
Ted Trimble, general manager of Western Canal Water District said the news means his growers will not only have the water they need for their crops – about 90 percent of the district is planted in rice with the rest in trees and row crops – but the district could be in the position to sell water this summer given its full allocation. Local water needs will be addressed first, he said, before any possible sales take place.
As of deadline Trimble had only a verbal confirmation that his district would receive a full allocation of Feather River water this season. The district’s water rights allows for pass-through flows of Feather River water directly to the district without being stored in Lake Oroville. That water flows by gravity into the district’s system and is used by growers and one state wildlife refuge.
Groundwater pumping to irrigate Northern California crops remains cause for concern with growers, Cecil said. Underground aquifers have taken a serious hit throughout California in recent years as surface water for irrigation needs has steadily been cut back in many areas across the state.