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2 Water Bonds

For farmers, especially ones who live on their lands, they need to take a hard, realistic look at the future.

May 16, 2018

Over the past 25-years as more and more water was re-directed out of the Central Valley for environmental and fish purposes, farmers were forced to rely more and more on the water below their farms.  California law has always found that the water below your land is for your use.  But, all that's soon to change with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  It will dictate that farmers can't use the water below their land as they wish, but must be able to put back in as much as they take out.  Environmental policy has taken away surface water and soon it will take a great hunk of what has been your groundwater. 
During the drought, without surface water, farmers had two choices:  farm with groundwater, or don't farm.  Many chose to stay in business any way they could.  As the water tables drew down, environmentalists seized on the opportunity to regulate it.  They had already taken the surface water and now blamed farmers for using the groundwater.  Without some source of surface water there is no way to replenish the underground short of yearly record rainfall.  That's what farmers hoped Temperance Flat would be with the passage of Prop 1 in 2014.  They watched as the storage debate went on for almost 4-years until the project was finally rejected by the California Water Commission.  We had warned our newsletter readers that this would be the case before the 2014 election, but many hoped that reason and optimism would prevail. 
So, without a source of water to replenish the groundwater, farmers will be between a rock and a hard place.  The law will limit how much water they can use from their wells. 
There are two water bonds coming your way this year, one in the June Primary and the other in November.  There are some good provisions in the bond and has been endorsed by several water agencies including the Association of California Water Agencies and many of their member agencies, like the Friant Water Authority, Northern California Water Association, and Southern California Water Coalition. 
But there is also financial support for the SGMA.  The State, after denying Temperance Flat and leaving farmers high and dry, now asks farmers to support the law that will leave them without the groundwater they need to survive.  There may be elements of these bonds that you like, but we recommend that you take a close look before voting. 
The article below gives us a good clue as to where the state is taking us when it says..."To some extent, we’re also going to have to take land out of production. Of course, our goal is to minimize that impact by doing everything else we can first. But even if we do everything we need to, still, it won’t be possible over the long term to irrigate as much land as we do today."
For farmers, especially ones who live on their lands, they need to take a hard, realistic look at the future.  There is NOT going to be enough water available in the future for the land now being farmed.  The new laws, court judgments, and decisions by the  State and Federal fish, water, and environmental agencies all have on thing in common:  LESS WATER FOR FARMERS.  
There is not any reasonable hope that his fact is going to change any time soon, and certainly not before many farm owners and landowners are going to be faced with not having enough water to sustain their operations.
Therefore, we recommend farmers look at their future now.  They may come to the same conclusion that many long term Valley farm families have already made. Sell out why you can get a reasonable price for your land and move to another state.

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