Navigating California’s Water Landscape: Rainfall, Reservoirs, and Allocations

California has received a substantial amount of rainfall, with 96% of the average in the northern watershed and 88% in the San Joaquin watershed for the 2024 crop year. The reservoirs in northern California are currently at 117% of the historical average, and the central reservoirs are at an impressive 120% of the average (see Figure 1). Despite these favorable conditions, the federal water allocation south of the Delta is only at 40%, as is the state allocation. While there will be ample water to support the NASS January intentions forecast of 232 thousand acres for California processing tomatoes, this situation leaves farmers in these state and federal project zones wondering what it takes to secure a more favorable allocation.

Since October 2023, approximately 16.5 million gallons have flowed through the Delta. However, only about 2 million gallons have been pumped south for use by state and federal projects, with pumping curtailed due to environmental restrictions.

On a positive note, the Department of Water Resources has released a report indicating an increase in groundwater storage for the first time since 2019. For the 2023 water year, this improvement is partly due to managed groundwater recharge and reduced pumping. This milestone coincides with the first time the groundwater sustainability plan Annual Report data was released by local groundwater sustainability agencies across 99 groundwater basins, accounting for 90% of groundwater use in the state. This reporting stems from the historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), established in 2014 to protect California’s invaluable groundwater resources.

Morning Star’s proactive approach to understanding future water availability in California has evolved our tomato acquisition strategy. As the landscape of water resources shifts, driven by evolving urban needs, environmental concerns, and industrial demands, we are strategically positioning ourselves to thrive amidst these changes. Our commitment is to source from regions with assured water quality and supply not just today, but also in the years to come.

FIGURE 1 | Source: CA Department of Water Resources

PDF Link: CA Res Chart_May 22


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