Having Good Water Rights Gives More to Farmers

Having Good Water Rights Gives More to Farmers

December 30, 2013

Westside Fresno County Farmers Continue Field Work, Waiting for Rain

By Patrick Cavanaugh, editor

Bill Diedrich farms near Firebaugh in western Fresno County. Despite his location, he may have more water than most since he is in Firebaugh Canal Water District, which is part of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors, which hold some of the oldest water rights in the State, dating back to the late 1800s.

Diedrich farms almonds, prunes, alfalfa pomegranates, cannery tomatoes and cotton.

“Right now we are tuning up our irrigation system in our tomato fields, flushing the lines repairing leaks we might have and generally getting it in top shape for next year. And since the fields are dry we are able to be in the field working and keeping our employees busy.

He noted that he is also pruning pomegranates and almonds and will start shaking the nut mummies out of the trees to prevent navel Orangeworm pressure next summer. “Of course the number one topic on every farmer’s mind is that lack of rain and snowfall,” he said.

Where Diedrich farms, water is more available due to the water rights from the San Joaquin River. “We will hopefully get 75 percent of our normal water supply, so I do not have any plans yet to not plant anything in the spring.”

Diedrich also farms in Madera County and relies on ground water and surface water. “That is something that is on everyone’s mind, but we feel pretty good about our ground water this year,” he said. “I’m in the San Luis Water District, a federal water district where there is will be an initial zero water allocation, but we are waiting to see what January, February and March brings us, and hopefully we can get some inflow to Shasta and get some water in the system. That’s what we are all hoping on!”

“If we do not get the rain and snow, then it may be catastrophic enough to get our politician’s attention to actually get something done,” he said. “We need to get storage money back in the water bond and hopefully get this state turned around in regard to policy on water.”