California Drought: Regulators announce largest water cuts in state’s history



By NewsGram Staff Writer

Caught in one of the worst droughts it has ever encountered, the California state regulators have decided to introduce the largest cuts in the state’s history by ordering farmers and others to reduce their water consumption.

Over 100 water rights holders have been ordered to stop all pumping from three major waterways in one of the country’s prime farm regions by the State Water Resources Control Board.

114 entities, including individual landowners and water districts serving farmers and small communities, with claims dating back to 1914 or before, have been served the curtailment order.

This will force thousands of  water users in the state to tap groundwater, buy it at rising costs, use previously stored water or go dry.

“It’s going to be a different story for each one of them, and a struggle for all of them” acknowledged executive director of the water board Thomas Howard.

Economists and agriculture experts say that the cuts are expected to have little immediate impact on food prices, with the growing of some crops to shift to regions with more  water in the short-term.

“We are now at the point where demand in our system is outstripping supply for even the most senior water rights holders,” said Caren Trgovcich, chief deputy director of the water board.

In order to prevent the board’s action, Jeanne Zolezzi, an attorney for two small irrigation districts serving farmers in the San Joaquin area, has decided to go to court.

“We are not talking about a 25 per cent cut like imposed on urban. This is a 100 per cent cut, no water supplies. A lot of trees would die, and a lot of people would go out of business,” said Zolezzi.

According to Jonas Minton, an advisor at the private Planning and Conservation League environmental group, the droughts of such scale are not unprecedented in California.

“The difference is that the state has grown in population to 38 million and has vast acres of farmland to irrigate, a problem with which the state cannot be blamed”, said Minton

“Today’s curtailments are not being done by choice. They’re a reaction to the reality of the shrinking water supply”, Minton added.