Farmers and leaders gather to discuss Kings County water issues

August 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
In the South Valley farmers and government leaders gathered Friday to discuss a long-term solution to Kings County's water problems. Officials say this is one of the driest years on record for Kings County.

Kings County is on tap to have its 7th or 8th driest year on record. Friday, many talked about problems and possible solutions but no permanent plan to fix the drought conditions have been made.

Lack of water storage, over drafting of the county's water supply and not enough water flowing into the Kings River are constant worries for people in Kings County. More than 50 people packed the Kings County Board of Supervisors Chambers to voice their concerns and brainstorm solutions.

"Our annual average overdraft of that basin today is about 120 to 150,000 feet," Dave Orth with the Kings River Conservation District said.

Democratic Assembly Member Rudy Salas out of Bakersfield held the water reliability meeting to get on record the water problems people are enduring in Kings County.

"Making sure we have collaboration, making sure we ease water transfers and those are all things I can take back to my colleagues at the capital and say here are some real solutions," Salas said.

Hanford tomato grower Brad Johns says he converted to a drip irrigation system to save half the amount of water he was using a year. The passionate farmer wants more action from local leaders to solve the Valley's water problems instead of talking about them year after year.

"We need to increase the size of the tank it is a sin against nature to allow good drinking water to get turned and sent to the ocean because we do not have storage," Johns said.

Orth said the solutions are clear, channel more water into the Valley from the delta or create storage. But those options cost in excess of a billion dollars. People want a plan in place to ensure the quantity and quality of water is sustainable for future generations.

"We have had 3rd or 4th year multiple year droughts in the past and if 2013 -14 continues this dry pattern we're going to have insufficient surface water," Orth said.

Assembly member Salas is on a State Water Crisis Committee and he says he's going to bring the issues and solutions brought up Friday to his fellow committee members.


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