Jun 17, 2021
Historic drought year limits agricultural water deliveries

The Fresno (California) Irrigation District Board of Directors made the decision at its regularly scheduled June 10 meeting to end most agricultural water deliveries on June 30.

Water deliveries began on June 1, but a decision on July operations was delayed due to the uncertainty of supplies and worsening drought conditions. With very little to no precipitation occurring in May and to date in June, the Kings River experienced its third lowest October through May snowmelt and precipitation runoff in recorded history. It is projected that this year’s spring runoff (April through July, when most snowmelt occurs) could be the fourth driest on record. These conditions led to FID not having enough water to continue water deliveries District-wide into July.

The Fresno (California) Irrigation District (FID) continues to track updates from the National Weather Service and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). DWR’s June 2 Bulletin 120 runoff projection for the Kings River was reduced to 25% of average, and the National Weather Service is currently forecasting runoff at 24% of average.

“It has been a critically dry year for not just the Kings River service area, but for the entire state,” Bill Stretch, FID general manager, said in a news release. “While 2020 was dry at only 54% of average, 2021 will end up being less than half of that. The compounding effects of two extremely dry years has led to one of FID’s shortest ever water seasons. Fortunately, FID was able to deliver water to our growers in a time when many other districts will not be able to make water deliveries at all.”

FID staff will continue making normal deliveries to its agricultural users throughout June. The board of directors also voted to make water available to purchase for customers along FID’s eastside Enterprise Canal system during the month of July as part of a “Hardship Run.” FID’s staff will be reaching out to those agricultural users that purchased water in prior years.

The district will continue to convey water to the cities of Fresno and Clovis throughout the year to their three surface water treatment plants, which keeps most of their wells turned off and benefits groundwater tables.

Since 1920, the Fresno Irrigation District has proudly delivered water to agricultural and urban communities within Fresno County. Today, the District encompasses over 250,000 acres of prime farmland and municipal areas, including the cities of Fresno and Clovis. As the premier irrigation district in the Central Valley, the District is extensively involved in a host of local, state and federal water issues.


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