Category: California Drought
Amid California’s driest year on record, the nation’s leading agricultural region is locked in drought and bracing for unemployment to soar, sending farm workers to food lines in a place famous for its abundance.
One-third of the Central Valley’s jobs are related to farming. Strains on water supplies are expected to force farmers to leave fields unplanted, creating a ripple effect on food processing plant workers, truck drivers and those who sell fertilizer, irrigation equipment and tractors.
California water officials turned off the tap Friday, saying the winter drought forced them to cancel water deliveries to the entire state.
The Department of Water Resources said in Sacramento none of the water from the State Water Project earmarked for individual water agencies would be delivered as previously agreed to.
“The harsh weather leaves us little choice,” DWR Director Mark Cowin said. “If we are to have any hope of coping with continued dry weather and balancing multiple needs, we must act now to preserve what water remains in our reservoirs.”
The State Water Project is the infrastructure agency that parcels out the water that comes mainly from winter rains and snowfall to water agencies serving cities and agricultural areas. Because precipitation has been rare this winter, there is virtually no hope supplies for the dry summer will be adequate.
With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions.
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Governor Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”
In the State of Emergency declaration, Governor Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. The governor also directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters and initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign.
Water professionals from around the state are preparing to meet in Sacramento to discuss the future of efficient water and energy use in California, but many are now focusing on an immediate future threatened by drought.
As a result, California Irrigation Institute conference organizers have secured recently appointed Deputy Drought Manager Jeanine Jones to provide an update during Friday’s luncheon regarding what the state of California intends to do. This bonus presentation has become a draw for many registering attendees at the 52nd annual conference of agricultural, urban and environmental water experts.