California’s winter was the not the drought-busting season that some experts predicted El Niño would bring. The state received an average amount of rain and snow this winter, however 59% of the state continues to experience severe drought conditions. Heavy rains in March boosted the amount of water in Northern California’s large reservoirs, which allows Sacramento Valley farmers to receive 100% of contracted water amounts. Conversely, San Joaquin Valley farmers will receive much lower water allocations because the San Luis Reservoir (SLR) is only 15% full; SLR provides surface water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley through both the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP).
Water allocations for San Joaquin Valley farmers are 60% from the SWP and 5% from the CVP; 5% is an increase from the zero percent allocation they have received from the CVP over the past two years. Limited water allocations for San Joaquin Valley farmers are due to:
- Dry conditions in the fall of 2015 meant that the SLR did not fill with water
- The United States Bureau of Reclamation decided to conserve water stored in upstream Northern California reservoirs
- While Sierra Nevada snowpack was higher this year than last year, it was still below historical averages
- The restrictions that protect certain species of fish
Attached is a map of California published by the United States Department of Agriculture illustrating the severity of the California drought. While drought conditions have improved from last year, the red and maroon colors (D3-D4), representing extreme and exceptional drought, cover the growing region of the San Joaquin Valley.
With an El Niño that was weaker than expected, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared El Niño officially over as of May 2016. La Niña conditions are expected late summer, resulting in a cool, dry California winter. If any rainfall reaches the state, it will most likely fall in Northern California, leaving the central and southern parts dry and furthering the current drought situation.
Markon will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.
Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.
©2016 Markon Cooperative, Inc. All rights reserved.