Harlan Ranch Bulldozes Citrus Trees Due to No Water

 

Harlan Ranch Loses More than Just Trees

Shawn Stevenson is the Vice President of Harlan Ranch, a third-generation family-owned and operated farm located in Fresno County. He says this is the toughest time the ranch has experienced in its history.

Stevenson spoke as a bulldozer uprooted productive trees last week.  “Once we finished pushing these trees, we’re going to be out about 400 acres of the 1200 acres that’s pushed. In addition, we have another 140 acres we’re just giving enough water to barely keep alive,” said Stevenson. “The balance of our crops are receiving 66 percent of their normal water. So no matter what kind of crop that is out here on Harlan Ranch this year, it’s a very tough year as far as water goes,” he added.

Stevenson explained that the lack of water isn’t just about crops, but the people involved as well.

“There’s not enough water. It impacts the trees. It impacts our employees. Earlier this year I had my first layoffs I ever done because of lack of work, and that’s because we are pushing out so many trees. About 30 percent of our employees were let go. That was the probably the most devastating time that I’ve faced here,” said Stevenson.

He added that this reaches far more than just his farm, that the drought permeates all aspects of the industry, not just growers.

Stevenson predicted that this coming season, he’ll produce and deliver to the packing house about 25 percent of the volume of citrus produced in the past year. “That impacts not only our employees but the packers at the packing house, the people who sell the fruit, and the people we buy pesticides and fertilizers from,” Stevenson added.

With drought reaching the majority of the state, with 58 percent of California at the highest drought-level, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor reportsome farmers are thinking about the future of the industry in California.

“Now, I understand not all of Fresno and not all of California looks this bad, but imagine that we’re like the “canary in the coal mine”. This is what the future of California looks like. This kind of devastation that you see here is what our future looks like. If we continue to have no or little surface water deliveries, and as the groundwater situation continues to deteriorate. Without more surface water, without more water supplies, this is the future of the Central Valley,” said Stevenson.

“Several months ago, I looked back at what the worst case scenario would be and started making plans for that worst case scenario. And, the worst case scenario is about right on track. I don’t think a lot of people realize that is like a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, or a wildfire or an earthquake, it’s just going to take a lot longer time to happen. It’s going to happen slowly—the devastation to our economy, to peoples’ lives, to whole communities,” he said.

Stevenson also mentioned communities such as Mendota and Orange Cove, which rely completely on the agriculture industry for employment, and added, “without work, this can leave entire cities in dire situations.”

“Our water infrastructure has been far out-stripped by the people in this state, so it’s time we update it and figure out how to get more water to more people in the state and try to preserve agriculture for our state, our country, and our world,” Stevenson said.

Farmers Hit With New Regulatory Fee

Source: The Porterville Recorder

Farmers who are already reeling from a lack of water to irrigate their crops this summer are being hit with an annual acreage fee to meet a mandated program to monitor water runoff from irrigated lands.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in September of 2013 adopted new waste discharge requirements to protect ground and surface water from irrigated agricultural discharges for the Tulare Lake Basin area. That led to a plan to monitor groundwater and what impacts irrigation has on that groundwater.

Growers who irrigate agricultural lands for commercial purposes within the Tulare Lake Basin area must comply, but they do have a choice. They can either deal individually and directly with the Water Board, or they can join one of several regional coalitions that have been formed to assist growers in meeting all the requirements.

In the Porterville area, that coalition is the Tule Basin Water Quality Coalition. There is also a coalition in Kern County, as well as the Kaweah Basin Water Quality Coalition to the north. Some growers who have irrigated lands in both, will have to sign up with both, said Tulare County Supervisor and citrus grower Allen Ishida.

The deadline to sign up is rapidly approaching. Growers must sign up with their local coalition by Aug. 4, or they will be stuck dealing directly with the Water Board and having to monitor their groundwater on their own.

“If you received the letter, you better pay it,” stressed Ishida, explaining that monitoring even just a 10-acre plot could cost several thousand dollars a year.

The plan was put into place to improve the quality of groundwater, but Ishida said “They’re regulating without the base science.”

He contends the cause of nitrates in the ground, which is very common in Tulare County, has not been pinned down and that the Water Board is incorrectly blaming farmers. “We’re not the only ones contributing to high nitrates,” said Ishida, agreeing that some nitrates naturally occur, but no one has determined how much is natural.

David DeGroot, who is with 4 Creeks, an engineering firm working for the Tule Basin Coalition, said the only farming operations exempt from this latest order are dairy farmers because they are already under an irrigated management plan.

He said the basin began monitoring surface water in 2003 and now that has been extended to water pumped from the underground.

Farmers got the Water Board to agree to the coalition idea. “Rather than do this individually, maybe we can form a coalition to do the work,” said DeGroot of the idea. “It is a lot more cost-effective.”

The coalition will handle all the monitoring and reporting, which DeGroot said is extensive. Also, it will deal with the Water Board.

The cost for the Tule Basin Coalition is $5 per acre of irrigated land and a $100 participation fee. Both are annual costs. DeGroot and Ishida said the cost for the Kaweah Basin is higher. DeGroot said having to deal with the Water Board is much more expensive.

If a person ignores the order, then there are hefty fines. DeGroot also said if a grower misses the Aug. 4 deadline, they are prohibited from signing up later unless the Water Board grants them permission. Either way, not signing up by Aug. 4 will mean the grower will have to deal with the Water Board, and probably face a fine for not signing up.

According to the state, the Tulare Lake Basin Plan identifies the greatest long-term problem facing the Basin as the increase in salinity in groundwater. Because of the closed nature of the Tulare Lake Basin, there is little subsurface outflow. Thus salts accumulate within the Basin due to the importation and evaporative use of water. A large portion of this increase is due to the intensive use of soil and water resources by irrigated agriculture.

However, the order covers the entire San Joaquin Valley. DeGroot said the total acreage of the Tule Basin is 600,000 acres, of which 350,000 aces are irrigated ag land. He said basically the boundaries are roughly Avenue 196 on the north and the Kern County line on the south, the foothills on the east and the Tulare/Kings county line on the west.

The Water Board said the order requires “the implementation of management practices to achieve compliance with applicable water quality objectives and requiring the prevention of nuisance. The Order requires implementation of a monitoring and reporting program to determine effects of discharges on water quality and the effectiveness of management practices designed to comply with applicable water quality objectives.”

DeGroot said the initial objective is to summarize conditions in a basin. “Once those are approved, then we’ll go out and start monitoring wells,” he said. The plan is to test a well every nine sections.

So far, DeGroot said the sign-ups have gone well, but they know a lot of landowners have held off. As of late last week, he estimated 65 percent of farmers have joined the coalition.

UC Davis Drought Study Assesses Current Losses and Potential Future Impacts

Source: CDFA

A new report from the University of California, Davis, shows that California agriculture is weathering its worst drought in decades due to groundwater reserves, but the nation’s produce basket may come up dry in the future if it continues to treat those reserves like an unlimited savings account.

The UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences study, released today at a press briefing in Washington, D.C., updates estimates on the drought’s effects on Central Valley farm production, presents new data on the state’s coastal and southern farm areas, and forecasts the drought’s economic fallout through 2016.

The study found that the drought — the third most severe on record — is responsible for the greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture, with river water for Central Valley farms reduced by roughly one-third. Groundwater pumping is expected to replace most river water losses, with some areas more than doubling their pumping rate over the previous year, the study said. More than 80 percent of this replacement pumping occurs in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin.

The results highlight California agriculture’s economic resilience and vulnerabilities to drought and underscore the state’s reliance on groundwater to cope with droughts. “California’s agricultural economy overall is doing remarkably well, thanks mostly to groundwater reserves,” said Jay Lund, a co-author of the study and director of the university’s Center for Watershed Sciences. “But we expect substantial local and regional economic and employment impacts. We need to treat that groundwater well so it will be there for future droughts.”

Other key findings of the drought’s effects in 2014:

  • Direct costs to agriculture total $1.5 billion (revenue losses of $1 billion and $0.5 billion in additional pumping costs). This net revenue loss is about 3 percent of the state’s total agricultural value.
  • The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is $2.2 billion.
  • The loss of 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs related to agriculture represents 3.8 percent of farm unemployment.
  • 428,000 acres, or 5 percent, of irrigated cropland is going out of production in the Central Valley, Central Coast and Southern California due to the drought.
  • The Central Valley is hardest hit, particularly the Tulare Basin, with projected losses of $810 million, or 2.3 percent, in crop revenue; $203 million in dairy and livestock value; and $453 million in additional well-pumping costs.
  • Agriculture on the Central Coast and in Southern California will be less affected by this year’s drought, with about 19,150 acres fallowed, $10 million in lost crop revenue and $6.3 million in additional pumping costs.
  • Overdraft of groundwater is expected to cause additional wells in the Tulare Basin to run dry if the drought continues.
  • The drought is likely to continue through 2015, regardless of El Niño conditions.
  • Consumer food prices will be largely unaffected. Higher prices at the grocery store of high-value California crops like nuts, wine grapes and dairy foods are driven more by market demand than by the drought.

If the drought continues for two more years, groundwater reserves will continue to be used to replace surface water losses, the study said. Pumping ability will slowly decrease, while costs and losses will slowly increase due to groundwater depletion. California is the only state without a framework for groundwater management.

“We have to do a better job of managing groundwater basins to secure the future of agriculture in California,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which largely funded the UC Davis study. “That’s why we’ve developed the California Water Action Plan and a proposal for local, sustainable groundwater management.”

Failure to replenish groundwater in wet years continues to reduce groundwater availability to sustain agriculture during drought — particularly more profitable permanent crops, like almonds and grapes — a situation lead author Richard Howitt of UC Davis called a “slow-moving train wreck.”

Report Highlights Urgent Need to Address California’s Groundwater Management

Management of California’s groundwater basins is fragmented, and many groundwater management plans are outdated and lacking important details, leaving significant room for improvement, according to a report released today by the California Water Foundation (CWF).

The report, An Evaluation of California Groundwater Management Planning, assesses the current condition of groundwater management planning in the state and makes recommendations to support sustainable management.

Lester Snow, Executive Director, California Water Foundation
Lester Snow, Executive Director, California Water Foundation

“California’s limited approach to groundwater management has been a concern for a long time, but the drought has drawn renewed attention to this increasing problem,” said Lester Snow, executive director of CWF. “Developing effective plans for how we manage this valuable resource is a crucial step to ensure that California’s farms, cities, and environment have reliable water supplies today and in the future.”

Groundwater is a critical part of California’s water supply, used to meet approximately 40 percent of the state’s water demands in an average year and up to 60 percent or more during droughts. In some regions, groundwater provides 100 percent of the local water supply. Yet, California is the only state without comprehensive statewide groundwater management programs.

The report released today reviewed 120 groundwater management plans adopted by local water agencies to manage their groundwater basins and concludes that current state groundwater management laws are inadequate. While many districts are effectively managing their groundwater resources, the report found significant limitations to the overall quality of groundwater plans in all parts of the state. Many plans lack basic basin management objectives or an implementation strategy for ensuring that objectives will be met. Most of the plans did not include or describe stakeholder outreach and participation. Additionally, 28 percent of the plans examined were written in 2002 or earlier and have not been updated.

The report makes the following recommendations to advance the development and implementation of groundwater management plans:

  • Establish a statewide goal that groundwater plans must describe how they will achieve sustainability of each groundwater basin.
  • Organize and empower local groundwater agencies to manage groundwater sub-basins.
  • Require the development and enforcement of groundwater management plans by local groundwater agencies.
  • Provide local agencies with technical guidance and financial support from the state of California.
  • Empower the state of California to oversee program implementation.

The state’s growing groundwater overdraft problems have resulted in a number of adverse consequences, including saltwater intrusion, increased energy costs due to pumping from greater depths, environmental degradation, and land subsidence that results in costly damage to infrastructure.

In May, CWF released a report of findings and recommendations to achieve sustainable groundwater management in California. Learn more at: http://www.californiawaterfoundation.org.

An Evaluation of California Groundwater Management Planning was prepared for CWF by RMC Water and Environment. The California Water Foundation’s (CWF) vision is to sustainably meet the water needs of California’s farms, cities, and environment today and into the future. CWF supports innovative projects and policies and brings together experts, stakeholders, and the public to achieve 21st century solutions.

Photo Credit: CDFA

Stockton Wins Appeal to Pump From Delta

Stockton can continue to pump water from the Delta this summer, ensuring that its new $220 million drinking-water plant – funded by ratepayers – will not stand idle.

The city was one of thousands of junior water-rights holders in the Central Valley ordered to stop taking water in recent weeks because of the drought.

That water was needed by those with older, more senior water rights, the State Water Resources Control Board said at the time.

The city appealed, arguing that its circumstances are different. Under a special section of state water law, Stockton is allowed to pump only as much water from the Delta as it releases back into the Delta at its wastewater treatment plant, a few miles downstream.

Ultimately, the state agreed, acknowledging in a letter that the city’s permit is “unique” and saying that the city can continue to take the water.

“It’s good news,” said Bob Granberg, assistant director of the city’s Municipal Utilities Department. “We’ll be able to back off groundwater pumping, and that will definitely help.”

The Delta water should help the city avoid any unusually aggressive water conservation requirements or rationing, he said.

The fact that Stockton will be drinking from the Delta this summer after all does not diminish the need to conserve. While the city has not taken any unusual steps to reduce water use, the rules that are in place every summer still apply.

Those rules include no outdoor irrigation from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., no washing cars unless hoses are equipped with nozzles, and no washing driveways and sidewalks except with pressure washers, among other requirements.

“We keep reminding people to conserve, and reminding them of the restrictions that are in place,” Granberg said.

UC Davis Report Shows Startling, Accurate Water Crisis Snapshot

The report issued today by the California Department of Food & Agriculture and the University of California, Davis presents an accurate water crisis picture of the reality resulting from federal decisions that will reduce the production of food and fiber, according to California Citrus Mutual.

Unfortunately, this picture is not complete. The report indicates the losses which have been incurred to-date, but does not and cannot begin to predict future impacts as permanent crops continue to be ripped out of production as we enter into the hottest months with zero access to surface water,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen.

“The report is a compilation of what the authors know is happening as a result of April calculations. Since then, the Bureau of Reclamation has challenged the Administration’s focus on obesity prevention, school lunch programs, and other campaigns focused on healthy eating by holding water that could otherwise be used for the production of food and fiber.

As such, growers are being forced to make difficult farming decisions that have and will continue to result in reduced plantings of annual crops and the removal of permanent crops.

“If there is a flaw in the report, it is the assumption that ground water supplies are available to offset surface water loss, which may be true in some production areas but certainly not all.

The authors do fairly acknowledge that the impacts to the Friant service area in particular are not yet calculated into this water crisis report.

“The report demonstrates the costs associated with the inability of the Central Valley to produce a viable crop due to zero or minimal water allocation.

As the actions of the shortsighted agencies manifest themselves into reality, the cost will be borne for years to come until permanent crop plantings are replaced and production is regained. Production, revenue, and jobs are in abeyance for several years to come.”

Image courtesy of TeddyBear[Picnic]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Severe Drought Now Covers 100% of the State

Mark Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center, reports that all of California is now depicted as being in severe drought (D2) or worse this week, with the D3/D4 areas remaining unchanged. A heat wave is settling in that will only serve to exacerbate and accelerate drought impact concerns across the state. Increased water demand and risk of fire will ramp up as the heat does, and the state’s agricultural industry continues to suffer. The current drought map is included below.

A cursory review of drought impacts includes:

Groundwater: CDFA reports the state’s groundwater resources are at historically low levels. Fifty percent of the 5,400 wells assessed have dropped since 2008 to points lower than they in the previous century. San Joaquin Valley levels fell more than 100 feet below previous historic lows, while Sacramento Valley, Sonoma Valley and Los Angeles basin levels fell up to 50 feet. Note that the analysis was done in the spring when groundwater levels are usually at their highest.

Curtailments: CDFA reports curtailments in various watersheds, depending upon runoff conditions, water demand and the type of water rights. Water rights holders, including water agencies, farmers and other property owners, have been unable to receive their due water supplies. Junior water rights holders lose out first. Efforts are underway to save water for essential health and safety purposes, wildlife and habitat.

Food Assistance: The California Department of Social Services announced food assistance provisions to at least 24 counties with high unemployment rates and a high proportion of agricultural workers. Foodbanks struggle to supply provisions as the state grows less produce and sources provide lower produce donations.

Livestock Reductions: Many cattle and other livestock producers in California transported thousands of animals by truck to other states as they cannot wait out the stunted grass and depleted water sources. Reuters reported that up to 100,000 California cattle have left the state in just the past four months and producers are selling their cattle early.

Fruit and vegetable prices:  rose 2 and 3 percent in 2013, respectively, per USDA, as low water supplies affected production. A similar price increase in 2014 is likely as more than three million acres out of the nine million acres of irrigated land in California receive no surface water, aside from rain.

Reduced production:  USDA forecasts a 20 percent reduction in rice production and a 35 percent drop in cotton production in California this year as farmers leave fields fallow in response to very meager water allocations.

Photo credit: Robert Galbraith/ReutersUS Drought Monitor CA

 

Drought Monitor Key

A Rant on the War for Water — or perhaps just a restatement of the obvious

Commentary by Laurie Greene, Editor

The War for Water has become more complex, fractious, and dire.

 

The battles are marked by staggering amounts of purchased-but-undelivered water supplies; broken contract obligations;

 

local water districts scrambling to find any source of water at any price; water theft; water diversion; water re-diversion; fishery restoration;

 

rapidly escalating overdraft and land subsidence conditions; lack of river improvements; reservoirs drying and dying; an epidemic of well drilling;

 

aging water infrastructure; farmers resorting to water sales profits instead of crop profits; fallowed fields;

 

threatened species, pitting environmental conservationists against farmer environmentalists and humans versus fish;

 

fish trucking; climate change confusion and unpreparedness; deals for more water imports; decisions for no Delta exports; water supply runoff;

 

compromised and halted agricultural research; approvals, denials, exceptions. . .

Drought - No Water Logo

 

We are employing politicians, lawyers, government agencies, scientists, and institutions of education to discuss and solve our water crisis. . .

 

and money has been thrown at farmers, food banks, and emergency services;

 

but we are not investing in, creating, and aggressively launching new water storage, balanced and effective environmental solutions for threatened species;

 

improved sewage disposal; enforced urban water conservation; modern water conveyance and infrastructure; groundwater renewal; wide-use of desalination technology.

 

We face curtailed critical agricultural research; unemployment; increased crime–according to some; increased health costs; declining water quality; disappearing snowpack;

 

school and business shutdowns; mortgage forfeiture; homelessness;

 

community failures; permanent loss of farm laborers; food shortages; increased stress on food banks with dwindling food supplies;

 

increased food insecurity and exposure to imported food safety risks; raised food and water prices; possible loss of domestic and foreign markets; threatened economies—

 

‘not to mention sheer human stress, panic, and grief.

 

Yet, we are urging, pleading, debating, meeting, emailing, tweeting, phoning, rallying, regulating, appealing, suing, petitioning, curtailing, strategizing; lobbying . . .

 

What academic or worldly discipline – geography, sociology, biology, chemistry, economics, politics, psychology, medicine – or realm of life – will NOT be affected?

 

Who does not need food, water, air, and an income?

 

At what point will we hit bottom, having suffered so much that we are finally forced to compromise and reach a survivable compromised existence?

 

At that point, will it even be possible?

 

 

Sources and Inspiration:

Friant Waterline, “Today’s River And Salmon”, http://friantwaterline.org/todays-river-and-salmon/

Merced Sun-Star, “Merced Irrigation District Seals Deal with State for More Irrigation Water”, mercedsunstar.com/2014/04/23/3615393/mid-seals-deal-with-state-for.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1

Western Farm Press, “Drought Chokes Research Efforts in California”, http://westernfarmpress.com/irrigation/drought-chokes-ag-research-efforts-california?page=5

Maven’s Notebook, in general, http://mavensnotebook.com

Salt, “Fields And Farm Jobs Dry Up With California’s Worsening Drought”, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/04/22/303726931/fields-and-farm-jobs-dry-up-with-californias-worsening-drought

State Water Resources Control Board; ACWA eNews; ACWA; Western United Dairymen

Free Online Research-Based Advice On Weathering A Drought

The latest research-based advice on weathering a drought is now available free online.

Spring is here, and California farming is in full swing. But this year, the agriculture industry is operating under the burden of unrelenting drought.

The UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is working to help farmers cope with the unwelcome outcome of historically low rainfall the last three years. UC scientists, with support from the California Department of Water Resources, have recorded video presentations on high-priority drought topics that are available for viewing on the UC California Institute of Water Resources drought webpages.

“We are bringing the latest research on drought and water from the UC system’s leading experts to as many farmers, farm industry representatives, communities and students possible,” said Doug Parker, director of the UC California Institute of Water Resources. “People working in the ag industry are busy this time of year. They can get information from these videos whenever and, using mobile devices, wherever it is convenient for them.”

The first seven presentations in the “Insights: Water and Drought Online Seminar Series,” each about half an hour in length, are now ready for viewing. Topics are:

Groundwater and surface water interactions under water shortage
Thomas Harter, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis.

No Water LogoCrop water stress detection and monitoring
Kenneth Shackel, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis

Surface irrigation management under drought
Khaled Bali, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Imperial County

ET-based irrigation scheduling and management considerations under drought
Richard Snyder, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis

Salinity management under drought for annual crops
Stephen Grattan, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis

Salinity management under drought for perennial crops
Stephen Grattan, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis

Water-use-efficient tillage, residue and irrigation management
Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis

Some of the topics that will soon be added to the online drought series are:

Managing deficit irrigation
Marshall English, professor emeritus at Oregon State University

Managing rice systems with limited water
Bruce Linquist, UC Davis

Climate change and paleoclimatology: 2013/1014 in perspective
Lynn Ingram, UC Berkeley

Available tools for estimating soil suitability to groundwater banking
Antony O’Geen, UC Davis

Irrigation management of tomato under drought conditions
Eugene Miyao, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

How Will Monitoring Soil Moisture Save Me Water?
Dan Johnson, USDA-NRCS California State Water Manager

Winegrapes water management under drought
Paul Verdegaal, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Irrigation management of fruit and nut crops under Sacramento Valley conditions
Allan Fulton, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Alfalfa water demand and management under drought
Daniel Putnam, UC Davis

Field irrigation monitoring for maximum efficiency under drought conditions
Blake Sanden, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Subtropical orchards management under droughts
Ben Faber, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Additional valuable information from California academic institutions for dealing with the drought in the short-term and long-term is available at California Drought Resources. The pages are regularly updated to bring new developments from the state’s university and colleges to a broad range of communities, including farmers, ranchers, landscaping professionals, policymakers and California residents.

For more information on Insights: Water and Drought Online Seminar Series, contact Faith Kearns, UC California Institute for Water Resources, faith.kearns@ucop.edu.

Photo: Oroville Lake, February, 2009. Photo courtesy of California Department of Water Resources.

Early Harvest Season for Almonds

2013 Almond Harvest To Start

Almond harvest should start in earnest in Kern County, most likely next week, given the 100-degree temperatures everywhere. This is very early for this year’s crop size.
“The Nonpareils are going like crazy,” said Vern Crawford, a long-time PCA for Wilbur-Ellis Co., Shafter Branch. “With the crop estimate down, prices are up, and that’s good since growers had to spend so much on mite sprays this year.”
“This is the worst mite year that we’ve ever had–across the whole county,” Crawford noted. “The reason for the high pressure is not exactly clear,” he said.
“But the biggest problem all growers are having is the lack of water,” Crawford said. “We need more dams and we need the cities along the coast to put up desalinization plants to cut their demand on the water we need for agriculture.”
“Many Kern County farmers are now extracting water at the bottom of their wells and will need to spend $250,000 each to go deeper. Those big deep wells on the West Side with 200 HP pumps are sucking the water from the East Side,” he said.
Crawford warned that the groundwater will not last long. “We are going to barely make it through this season with 30 percent allocations. And next season, if we do not get enough water for the vast orchards on the west side of Kern County, on beautiful ground and with every irrigation economy available, particularly drip, growers will go into survival mode,” said Crawford.
Growers will shake their trees at bloom to eliminate the crop and then give the tree a few sips of water so that that it doesn’t die. Hopefully that will get them to another good winter of rain. But still, it will take the trees two full years to recover.
“And it’s amazing that nearly all of these water problems are due to the Delta Smelt,” Crawford said.