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"Farmers may have to fallow at least 500,000 acres of farmland and switch to crops that require less water." 

Feb 27, 2019

Westside farmer Mark Borba shared this facebook comment about the 35% water allocation announcement made last week by the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation:

"Assume you have a home mortgage, a car loan, a kid in college, and of course your normal daily living costs ongoing. Then assume you receive a note on your work desk some morning announcing that "This year you'll receive 35% of your salary...so cope with it!". What does one do to meet all those ongoing costs? Can you perhaps "idle" a few rooms in our house...lowering the mortage? Or, cut your car in 1/2...and only make part of the monthly payment? How about tell you kid to only attend school 1/3 of the day? Importantly, reduce your family's calorie intake by 65%? See....as a farmer our land, equipment, irrigation systems and management staffing are largely "fixed". Those costs run on...whether you have 35% or 100% water. Compound that with permanent crops (trees/vines) that die absent annual water...and the resultant permanent capital "loss" in one season can be fatal? Folks wonder why there is over-drafting of the groundwater and subsidence? Growers use groundwater as a last resort. But, as a dying man on the desert...in order to survive, we will do anything, including deplete the groundwater. So, the long winded answer to that question: HELL NO 35% IS NOT ADEQUATE! Almonds require 45" of water; garlic and tomatoes 22-29"; Pima cotton 26".....(compared to 35% of the Westlands contract of 30.5" @ 100%) delivery...THIS 35% IS ONLY 10.7 inches. Can you calculate what will be pulled from the underground? This ignores that in many cases, lands will lay idle, employment will fall, economic activity that ripples thru the Valley economy will collapse...and food production for the State, Nation and World...will be reduced. Again: HELL NO 35% IS NOT ADEQUATE!"

The allocation announcement came at about the same time the San Francisco Chronicle ran this headline:  18 trillion gallons: Calif. has seen enough precipitation this month to fill Lake Shasta 12 times.  Of course we don't have another 11 Lake Shastas, so the water flows to the Delta where it continues to flow to the ocean because we no place to put it.  Why don't we have any place to put it?  We went through all those arguments with the Prop 1 debate.  

Adding insult to injury a report by the PPIC(Public Policy Institute of California) says "farmers may have to fallow at least 500,000 acres of farmland and switch to crops that require less water."  That's what's so frustrating for farmers, watching all the water flow right by them while the state tells them they have to fallow their land.  

The land a farmer has is only as valuable as the water he can put on it.  Borba is right.  You cut the water, you cut the income.  It's one thing durng a drought, but another thing entirely when there's lots of water for everyone.  

Feds announce initial Central Valley Project water allocation. Westlands isn’t pleased

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