Farmers who draw federal CVP water from the Delta-Mendota Canal are slated to receive only one-fifth of their allocations this year because of drought-like conditions and federal requirements to protect endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
In Patterson, where agriculture is a top regional industry, many people are watching the situation with anxiety.
That’s why we were glad to see the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts step up within the past couple of weeks and offer a share of their Stanislaus River water in an agreement that will help many farm water districts on the West Side.
The term “win-win” is a cliché we seek to avoid, but in this case, it truly defines the agreement.
Releasing Stanislaus River water into the Delta will ease the migration of the threatened Central Valley steelhead and fall-run Chinook salmon before the state Department of Water Resources and the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority draw the water from a federal pumping plant near Tracy.
State water contractors and federal contractors that belong to the water authority — including irrigation districts that serve the West Side — will be able to tap into that supply. The $100-per-acre-foot price for the river water is hardly cheap, but it’s still a deal for districts that will take whatever they can get this year.
Officials with both Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts also benefit by selling water they don’t need and raking in up to $4 million each in profits.
Kudos should go to all who were involved in this deal, including U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and state Department of Water Resources officials.
While many have talked about addressing the region’s long-term needs through the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the challenges related to this year’s water shortages must be addressed immediately. We hope state and federal officials continue to come up with creative solutions this season to help allay the current crisis.