California drought; water law ruling means higher food prices

Wasco. Dead orchard

Water law exists on its own planet. In California, senior water rights are those granted on or before 1914. They trump junior rights, which were granted after 1914.  The continuing California drought has forced the state to rule junior rights holders in the Central Valley agricultural heartland must stop diverting water, as doing so could harm senior holders. This means some farmland will go fallow, orchards will die, and food prices will thus inexorably go up.

California State Water Board extends curtailments to all post-1914 water right holders in the San Joaquin River watershed and South Delta; warns senior water rights holders they could be next.

I took the photo yesterday in Wasco. It’s a dead orchard, quite probably the farmer had to let it die because there wasn’t enough water to irrigate it. We saw quite a few similar orchards. The scale here is quite amazing, a single orchard can cover hundreds of acres and irrigation water either comes from the Sacramento Delta or groundwater pumping.


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