Sigh of relief for local water district, to receive 100% allocation

Apr 10, 2014 7:00 PM

It now looks like at least one North State Water District will receive 100% of its normal water supply this year.

That’s twice the amount that was forecast just a few months ago.

Restrictions were expected, but now, there is freedom for rice growers that belong to the Western Canal Water District.

“We’re able to grow our crops, prices are firm,” said Eric Larrabee, a rice farmer and president of Western Canal’s board.

This week, Western Canal got some good news.

In a conference call, the state’s Department of Water Resources told the local district they would receive 100% of their normal water supply.

“They did not want to breach the contract,” said Western Canal General Manager Ted Trimble. “The numbers came in, in our favor, but they were close.”

Under their diversion agreement with the state, the forecasted unimpaired runoff into Lake Oroville from April through July must be greater than 600,000 acre-feet.

The final number, boosted due to recent rains came out to 640,000 acre-feet.

“Well I think everyone's pleased. These guys now they have all the options on the table now,” Trimble said.

Bryce Lundberg is one of those guys. His operation, Lundberg Family Farms, will be able to plant all of their land, and not have to rely on the costly process of using groundwater.

“There’s so much at stake,” Lundberg said. “There's the families and farms, there's the communities, there's the businesses. And beyond that, there’s the environment.”

Lundberg said the good news is the product of a great working relationship with the state.

Eric Larrabee of Western Canal's Board and a third-generation rice farmer, agreed.

He's said despite rumors as severe as no water being delivered, Western Canal's "very senior" water agreement with Lake Oroville still holds strong.

He said it’s first in time, first in line.

“That stands true to this day,” Larrabee said. “That is the backbone of which a lot of our water rights were built on in this state. That is the law, and we were some of the first.”

That's the game of water rights, and water allocation. And Western Canal seems to have pulled off an unexpected victory.

“I think it's a win-win for Butte County agriculture and the rice industry,” Trimble said.

Action News Now also spoke with Thad Bettner, Executive Director of Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District.

He said he'll hear from the Bureau of Reclamation next week about their allocation.

He adds they are hearing of an increase, perhaps back to 75%.


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