Water Storage Needed for Farms and Communities

Doug Verboon on Needed Water Storage

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Water storage remains a major concern for many farmers. Doug Verboon, a Kings County supervisor and walnut farmer, attended the California Water Commission meeting on Oct. 14 and called it a rare opportunity for farmers and community members to petition for water storage.

“As farmers, we want the water for farming,” Verboon said, “but as supervisors, we need it for community use and disadvantaged communities. Yet, as farmers who have been complaining about the lack of water storage for years, this is the one chance in our lifetimes to get more storage built. We need to get over our differences, get together and make this happen.”

“We want to make sure the Water Commission fully understands the importance of adding more storage today,”Verboon continued, “because without more storage in the flood years, we will cease to exist in the dry years.” Verboon explained the Valley has waited too long to increase storage since the drought in 1977.

“This is our opportunity now to jump on the bandwagon,” he said, “and get more storage built. We’ve already passed the bond. We need the money spent right here in our Central Valley. It doesn’t need to go to Los Angeles; it doesn’t need to go to San Francisco. They have a lot of infrastructure. They have a lot of money. They pay for their water. They’re strong. They can build new reservoirs without any environmental problems at all. We need the help today to build this project at Temperance Flat.”

Should El Nino bring significant rain, Verboon said the Central Valley has the infrastructure to help capture the rain.Verboon said the Kings River, for example, has regularly spaced recharge basins along its length, “but they have been dry for the last ten years. Growing up we used to water ski and catch crawdads in those lakes; they were always full. You can’t fill them up today, so as it rains, if it rains, we need the environmentalists to lay off us a little bit and let us put some recharge in our groundwater storage to help the disadvantaged communities by diluting the water that’s gone bad on us. Our water used to be a little acidic, but now it’s really salty as overdrafting depletes it. We’re not farming any more ground than we have before. We need to take advantage of whatever rain we get, recharge our groundwater and move forward.”