Current News in the World of Water


Drip Irrigation System Close Up

Water has been in the news quite a bit lately, whether it’s due to increases in water allocations, investments in water conservation projects, or even the latest news about dams and reservoirs. Here are three of the biggest trending news stories involving water and how they could impact growers nationwide.

Increasing Water Allocations in the South-of-Delta Area

California drought has been a huge concern over the last few years, and 2018 is certainly no exception. At the end of May, some California growers were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the Bureau of Reclamation increased water allocations for those in the South-of-Delta area to 45%. This represents a 5% increase from the previous 40% allocation.

Per the Bureau of Reclamation, the increase for agricultural water service contractors is the result of hydrologic analyses and other factors, such as long-term weather models and forecasts. These allocations are subject to change yet again throughout the year as new opportunities arise and hydrologic outlooks change, as well. Updates for those part of the Central Valley Project can be found via the United States Bureau of Reclamation website.

Millions Invested in Dozens of Water and Wastewater Projects Nationwide

On May 24, 2018, the USDA announced that it would invest some $265 million into 81 projects across the country designed to help boost water and wastewater management in rural areas. These projects are slated to span across 35 states and will be funded via the USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. Fund use varies, but locales are able to decide whether to improve drinking water, storm drains, or waste disposal systems. These grants are only being given to rural communities with a population of less than 10,000.

The USDA’s Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, has been directed to make investments in rural communities that display the greatest need for updated infrastructure. What’s more, the Omnibus spending bill for the 2018 fiscal year set aside $5.2 billion specifically for USDA-backed loans and grants, which is significantly more than the $1.2 billion set aside the year prior.

Progress on the Oroville Dam

The Oroville Dam rebuild project, which is in its second year, is 45% complete according to California Department of Water Resources officials. The project involves completely rebuilding the main and emergency spillways, and it is expected to be completed by December of this year as long as weather and politics do not get in the way. Though it is possible to work around the weather to a degree, the project’s funding is another matter.

FEMA told congressmen from the state of California that unfavorable reviews of the way the DWR is handling the project may prevent federal reimbursement. Ideally, California wants FEMA to pay for about 75% of the project; the State Water Project contractors will contribute the other 25%. Lake Oroville is the Water Project’s biggest reservoir, serving some 26 million customers and irrigating some three quarters of a million acres of farmland.

Much of the news in the world of water comes out of California where drought runs rampant and water management techniques need significant refinement. Fortunately, it seems as if infrastructures across the country are getting the attention they need thanks to the USDA and FEMA, and California’s South-of-Delta growers are happy with the 5% increase to their allocations.