May 26, 2015California drought: Farmers agree to water cuts
The Western drought is proving to be the most dangerous in recent history. Farmers in California — and other areas along the West Coast — are doing all they can to cut back.
According to The New York Times, California farmers have agreed to use less, even if it means leaving part of their land unplanted.
But on Friday, in a sign of how the record-setting drought is shaking up established ways here, state officials accepted an offer from farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to give up a quarter of their water this season, either by leaving part of their land unplanted or finding other ways to reduce their water use. In return, the state has assured them that it will not seek further reductions for the growing season.
The deal is an important concession from a relatively small number of growers that officials hope will prompt similar agreements throughout the state’s agricultural industry, which uses 80 percent of the water consumed in the state in a normal year.
“We’re in an unprecedented drought, and we have to exercise the state’s water rights in an unprecedented way,” said Felicia Marcus, the chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. “This is a breakthrough in what has long been a rhetorical battle. It’s a significant turning point to have people say, ‘We know this is complicated. We want to do something early in good faith that is a pragmatic solution for everyone.’”
While the deal made on Friday is unlikely to have a pronounced effect on food prices or the water supply, the concession by the farmers in the delta — who collectively own about 10 percent of the state’s agricultural land — was a pre-emptive effort to limit potentially steeper cuts. Under the agreement, farmers who want to take part will have until June 1 to submit a plan to the state for how they intend to achieve the cutbacks.