Valley residents to rally for water in Sacramento

FRESNO, Calif.

More than 50 people gathered at the Fresno County Farm Bureau in Central Fresno early Thursday morning to board a bus bound for the state capitol. A total of 16 buses are planned from cities and towns across the Valley from Orange Cove to Madera.

Activists hope to explain how crucial a reliable water supply is to the Central Valley, and all of California. They plan to emphasize 2014 short term solutions such as water storage development, Delta sustainability, and clean water for disadvantaged communities.

It has been several weeks since the Valley has seen any rain. This is usually the time of year that the rainfall can sustain crops and fields. However, the ground is so dry, farmers have been forced to irrigate crops one to two months ahead of schedule. The new year started off with a dry forecast, and some lakes and reservoirs around the state are getting dangerously low.

Agriculture officials say the dry conditions will mean as little as five percent water allocations for growers -- and it's possible they could get no water at all.

The first Sierra Nevada snow survey of the season found water levels in the statewide snow pack to be just 20 percent of average for this time of year. The snow melt provides a third of the water used by California's cities and farms.

Just a few weeks ago at a meeting in Sacramento, water managers lobbied Governor Jerry Brown to declare an emergency. The governor had formed a task force to study the shortage.

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