Long food lines may return to Valley's Westside

July 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Drought conditions combined with a limited water supply in Western Fresno County had many people worried about what the future holds.

Farmers in the Westlands Water District face a possible zero water allocation next year due to the drought and pumping restrictions in the delta due to environmental protections

The loss of jobs during the 2009 drought led to long food lines in places like Huron and Mendota. The Community Food Bank fully expected to see these lines again in a few months.

Mario Santoyo of the Latino Water Coalition said, "I think that's a strong possibility."

Santoyo sounded the alarm because of the reduced irrigation supply and dropping levels at San Luis Reservoir which feeds farms in Westlands. Santoyo added, "The possibility of bad hydrology could result in two bad years together, which would make it worse than 2009. Going into next year it's going to be real scary."

Santoyo talked with state leaders about possible aid needed in the future.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen agreed the 2009 crisis could pale in comparison to next year. Jacobsen said, "We're realistically looking at a situation that's going to be much worse than that. We're going to see a lot of crops not planted. You combine all those things together it does equate to lost jobs and lost economic activity for the region."

Jacobsen figured hundreds of thousands of acres could go unplanted next season. "Even with a normal or above average year we're still looking at either a zero or maybe, 10-2o percent allocation so things aren't looking good."

Local leaders said 2009 made them better prepared to serve families who lose their jobs on the farm.


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