California’s water problems end up with local farmers – CBS Sacramento
WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Hope for rain this coming weekend does not diminish the fact that California faces potential statewide drought as authorities order counties to limit access to the water for agriculture.
West Sacramento farmer Dave Vierra says half of the total expected rainfall makes it clear to him the drought is real.
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“There’s no catching up at this point,” Vierra said.
He runs Dave’s Pumpkin Patch but serves a variety of vegetables. He said he had already seen a 10-15% increase in irrigation costs.
“We very rarely irrigate this early, this much,” he says.
Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday issued a drought emergency, but only for Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Newsom says drought conditions are particularly bad in those counties. It comes as California is set to face another devastating wildfire season after a winter with little precipitation.
Vierra says he’s lucky to have access to water from the river, but the other farmers aren’t so lucky. The California Water Resources Control Board has sent letters to 40,000 people warning them of “potential water supply shortages,” and irrigation districts have done the same to limit access to lakes and reservoirs.
“Guys from the south, they like almonds. So when they have a water shortage, they have to give the almonds water first because it is their perennial crop, it is their drop forever. So they stop cultivating other things, ”Vierra said.
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Other things like corn and tomatoes. Experts say less supply, higher gas prices and increased demand with restaurants reopening after the pandemic mean food costs will rise.
“And probably faster than you think,” Vierra said.
Ken McCarthy, from California, says it’s happened before and it’s cascading.
“The water problem will never go away after seeing reservoirs,” he said.
Old habits die hard.
“I see people watering a lot or washing their cars and I’m like, ‘This is going to affect us at some point,’” McCarthy said,
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This has already had an impact on Vierra. Winter wheat is dry and the yield is declining in a year it predicts a long hot summer.