From: Dan Whitcomb, Reuters
Published March 17, 2010 06:45 AM

California to get more water

California's drought-baked cities and farms will get considerably more water this year than last from federal officials, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Tuesday, making good on forecasts issued in February after a series of strong winter storms.

Irrigation districts south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which represent farmers on the west side of the state's Central Valley, will get 25 percent of their contracted water allotment from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Salazar said, up from just 5 percent in February.

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The increase was issued ahead of schedule and comes at a critical time for the Central Valley, which is one of the country's most bountiful agricultural regions. California, the No. 1 farm state, produces more than half the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States.

But Salazar said California, which has suffered through three years of drought that has prompted rationing, higher charges and mandatory conservation measures, must work out long-term solutions to its ongoing water crisis.

"We essentially are dealing with a system that is strained and in collapse and has no certainty with respect to water supply for both for agricultural and municipal use on the one hand and for environmental demands," Salazar said.

"Hopefully we will be able to work with the state of California, with all of the water users and members of California's (Congressional) delegation to fashion a long-term plan that's so badly needed," he said.

Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62F5ZP20100316

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