By Colby Tibbet, Associate Editor
Ron Jacobsma is general manager of the Friant Water Authority. And of course in a good year with adequate rain and snow and reduced environmental restrictions, Friant delivers water to about 1 million acres farmed by about 15,000 farmers From Merced to Kern County.
Jacobsma noted that his service area is really hurting.
“The problem is that we are really running out reserves for a lot of our growers right now. Domestic folks are seeing their rural wells running dry, and many irrigation wells are going dry, and we have limited groundwater,” said Jacobsma. “We were able to put some programs together and so we avoided a lot of what we thought was going be, for example, more than 50,000 acres of citrus taken out. But summer is not over yet either, so we don’t know if were going to have enough water to for many growers to be able to keep some of those orchards and fields alive,” he added.
Jacobsma is looking ahead, and says if we do get rain this year, entirely different things need have to happen.
“If we do get precipitation, we got to have the projects run better than it was last year. Last year we had delays in being able to turn the pumps on. We had inexact science that was overly protective of the fish when the take numbers weren’t showing up, and these fish weren’t being harmed, nothing you could scientifically demonstrate and yet anytime there was a sense that there might be something going on, the pumps were shut down or we were severely limited,” he said.
Jacobsma finally added, “We can’t afford that this year. We’re coming in with basically nothing, and when he get to storms, we got to ramp up.”