Categorized | Water

Unreliable water supply to California Central Valley cripples farming

The Central Valley is the largest almond producing area in the world. Credit: mavensphotoblog.com

The Central Valley is the largest almond producing area in the world. Credit: mavensphotoblog.com

A California Central Valley farmer explains how their strictly apportioned water supply is so meager and unreliable that it makes farming almost impossible.

Costs for water supplied by the Bureau of Reclamation to irrigate orchards on my farm near Firebaugh over the last five years have grown from $300 per acre to $1,800 per acre, per year. It is estimated that because of ESA restrictions, if we have normal rain and snow this winter, the supply of water supplied by Reclamation in 2014 will be 0% to 10% of our allotment. Therefore, 300,000 acres to 500,000 acres of prime land that historically was irrigated with Central Valley Project water will lie fallow.

For a farmer trying to make business decisions, some of which may implicate family, farmworkers, neighbors and community for the next 30 years, this is an impossible situation.

Most of the water from Central Valley agriculture comes from the Sacramento Delta. One plan is to build gigantic tunnels to shunt water around the Delta to the Central Valley and Los Angeles. It is safe to say this will be done over the dead bodies of the Bay Area and Northern California. The inescapable fact is California does not have enough water for everyone to get the amounts they want.

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