Valley Water Worries

November 19, 2008 10:24:50 PM PST
Not everyone is enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we've been having. Some people worry a third straight year of drought conditions could prove disastrous for California. The sun's warmth is a nice change from the normal autumn chill. But a few storm clouds would be welcome around the state. "We really need record rainfall and record snowpack." And not just for permanent crops like grapes and almonds. You would notice the trickle down Effects of an extended drought. Less green in the fields would mean shelling out more green in the checkout line.

Sarah Woolf from Westlands Water District said, "When you can't produce the fruits and vegetables, what you can get is going to be very expensive."

Mickey Paggi from Center for Ag Business said, "I think we're gonna see some severe rationing of water to those plants and those crops that have the highest return which means some things aren't gonna be there."

Talk of water rationing is already being heard in Los Angeles. Much of southern California's water comes from the San Joaquin Delta where pumping has been reduced to help protect endangered fish.

"People in Los Angeles will be dealing with things like not being allowed to water lawns, won't be allowed to wash their cars, things they haven't seen since the 70's."

A wet year would change all of that. But at this point the department of water resources projects it will provide just 15-percent of its normal water deliveries around the state. Westlands Water District located on the valley's troubled west-side ... Won't determine its allocation for farmers until February.

"But anticipations are that we will be at zero-to-ten percent, which is just unbelievable and it is very likely that we would receive zero. That would mean we would have to rely on significant amounts of groundwater."

The problem is the underground water supply is not being recharged because of the dry conditions. As farmers like to say ... there are just too many straws in the ground.

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