San Joaquin Valley Water Cutbacks Continue
Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley just saw their water supplies cutback an additional 5 percent. Central Valley Project water contractors south of the Delta will only receive 20 percent of their water allocation and State Water Contractors will only receive 35 percent of their allocation. While most Sacramento Valley contractors will most likely receive 100 percent of their allocation, farmers in the San Joaquin Valley will face a similar situation as they did in 2009.
Not only did the dry winter cause the cutbacks, but court decisions and aging water infrastructure force farmers in the San Joaquin Valley to fallow hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. Recently, Family Water Alliance screened the movie The Fight for Water that captures the human impact of the court decision to cutoff water to the western San Joaquin Valley.
The California Central Valley filmmaker, who happened to reside in the impacted part of the valley, set out to film this impact and document a historic water march that took farmers and farm workers, along with a coalition of supporters (lead by Hollywood comedian turned water activist, Paul Rodriguez), across the heart of the California Central Valley--on a four-day, 50-mile walk--to demand that their water supply be turned back on; because to them and their families, water is not only their means of survival, it is a chance of a better future... and for the very future of California. Less than five years later, the same communities that were devastated during the 2009 water crisis will be severely impacted by this year’s water cutbacks.
Water wars in California are historic, but putting a face on the suffering that is being caused; water supply cutbacks can only move us forward to addressing California’s water issues. There is a lot at stake, but the cost of doing nothing to fix California’s water system is much more expensive than the infrastructure investments that need to be made.
Westland’s Water District officials said communities in the region will face more than $1 billion in lost economic activity due to reduced water supplies, and that farmers in the district will lose $350 million in revenue because of the cutbacks.
Early storms this winter set out for a promising water year, but it is estimated that nearly 800,000 acre feet of water was unable to be stored in California reservoirs because of compliance with the federal biological opinion at the state pumps in Tracy.
As a state, we need to work towards a solution not simply be opposed to everything. When the agricultural industry sits down at the table they have everything on the line. Most of the other stakeholders cannot say the same. ■
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