Dry conditions pose economic concerns

April 2, 2013 12:59:11 AM PDT
April 1st marked the peak of the state snowpack but this has been a below average year.

Western Fresno County farmers they recently learned their federal water delivery would be reduced from 25-to-20 percent of normal. As a result, growers told Action News they'll be making some very important cropping decisions over the next month and a half. Many hope their water districts can buy supplemental water on the open market.

Retailers have long relied on the cantaloupes grown in western Fresno County but farmers like Joe Del Bosque said the lack of water could result in a much smaller crop this season. Del Bosque explained, "You'll start seeing some of the lower value crops go idle and eventually into some of the higher value crops like tomatoes and melons will be idle and that could impact the prices at the checkout."

West side cities like Mendota and Huron already have some of the highest unemployment rates in the US. They're areas which rely heavily on agriculture.

Republican congressman David Valadao of Hanford said, "When you talk about 40-percent unemployment this isn't just farm workers. We're talking about guys that work on tractors. We're talking about mechanics, stainless steel welders, truck drivers. We're talking about a lot of different industries this affects."

The California Latino Water Coalition brought together a bi-partisan group to demand action on a reliable water supply. This year irrigation deliveries from the delta were halted to protect the endangered delta smelt.

Congressman Jim Costa of Fresno said, "We know this is a below average rainfall year. We can see the lack of snow in the sierra but for too long our livelihoods have been dependent on false science."

Congressman Costa also urged support for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which calls for new canals to move water south of the delta.

Mario Santoyo of the California Latino Coalition said, "Part of that action is getting Governor Brown to build those twin tunnels because at the end of the day unless we build some infrastructure we will constantly have this problem."

The group is also concerned with falling support for a state water bond. A poll conducted the Public Policy Institute of California showed just 42-percent supported the measure which will appear on the November ballot in 2014.


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