Written by The Business Journal Staff
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) announced late last week that it is allocating to the City of Fresno 30 percent of its annual water allotment of 60,000 acre feet — the City’s first allocation from the Bureau since 2013.
“This is the first step in a long road to recovering from the crippling affects that the drought has caused in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Mayor Ashley Swearengin. “Though this is welcome news, this in no way means we have recovered from the drought and things are back to normal.”
“We must continue to implore cooperation from State and Federal regulators to allocate every drop of water possible for Fresno and its surrounding communities,” said Swearengin.
Thomas Esqueda, director of Public Utilities, added, “The 30-percent allocation means the citizens of Fresno will have access to 18,000 acre-feet from Millerton Lake that we can direct to our two surface water treatment plants, to recharge basins located throughout the City, and to other beneficial uses in the area.”
“While we are pleased to have received this important allocation of water,” Esqueda said, “we believe it is important to remind citizens that the Governor’s emergency drought restrictions will remain in effect through October 2016, so we must continue to reduce our water consumption even with this water supply allocation.”
In the 1960s, the City contracted with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for 60,000 acre-feet of surface water per year from the Friant Division (Millerton Lake) and developed a system to recharge the groundwater basin by “intentional recharge,” percolating the imported surface water supplies in constructed recharge basins.
The City’s USBR supplies are conveyed to the City via Fresno Irrigation District (FID) canals.
In 2004, the City began treating surface water supplies from Millerton Lake for direct potable use at its new Northeast Surface Water Treatment Facility (NESWTF).
2013 was the first year of a zero allocation in more than 50 years of contracting with the USBR.