The numbers are in for California agricultural water users and what everyone half expected — but hoped would not materialize — is now a reality.
Last year, water went over the spillway at Friant Dam; this year, because of a below normal snow pack, Friant Class 1 water users will get only 50 percent of their allocation, and Class 2 users will get no federal water.
For farmers in the Southern San Joaquin Valley with Kern River allocations, the allocation is 30 percent. State Water Project (California Aqueduct) allocation is 60 percent of entitlement.
With an overwhelming percentage of SJV acreage in permanent crops, fallowing land or cutting off water early to a row crop in a water-short year is no longer an option. To make up the deficit, growers will be forced to pump from wells, draw from water banks like the Kern Water Bank, or buy water from anyone who has some to sell.
With a shortage of surface deliveries, water costs could run as high as $700 per acre this year.
Adding insult to injury, the quality of that high-priced water could be poorer than surface water. Groundwater is often high in salts, sodium and chlorides, bicarbonate, or high in alkalinity.
To address some of these issues and help producers through this year, the 2007 Kern Spring Irrigation Workshop will focus on managing water and salinity in a drought year.
The free workshop is scheduled May 17 at the Kern Farm and Home Advisors Conference Room, 1031 S. Mt. Vernon Avenue, Bakersfield.
The first presentation is at 8:15. Here is the program:
—Pump Improvement Rebate Program, Pete Canessa, Center for Irrigation Technology, CSU Fresno
—NRCS EQIP Cost Share for Micro Sprinklers, Mark Davis, Kern NRCS
—Irrigation System Uniformity/Efficiency/Chemigation, Brian Hockett, North-West Kern Mobile Irrigation Lab.
—Deficit Irrigation for Permanent Crops (citrus, pistachios, almonds), Quality and Drought Management, Dave Goldhammer, University of California Irrigation Specialist and Craig Kallsen, UCCE Kern County.
—Permanent Crop Salinity Tolerance, Blake Sanden, UCCE Kern
—Soil Moisture Monitoring Demonstration, Blake Sanden.
—Roundtable Discussion/Presentation/Questions, Lanny Sowell, Irrometer; Ben Nydam, Dellavalle Labs (neutron probe); Sarkis Joulfaian, Netafim (automation, Web); Steve Lanander, Kern irrigation consultant (various technologies, integrated management); Blake Sanden (moderator).