California farmers who are based in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta have made a proposition to voluntarily cut back on their water use by 25 percent in an attempt to avoid the state setting stricter water limitations on its residents before summer’s end. It has been reported that the deal being presenting to state officials Wednesday is for farmers to choose to either not plant a quarter of their crops or to use less water from the river for crop irrigation.
Water managers from Delta believe that if California decides to accept this deal, then other farmers who are also facing restrictions on their water use will end up voluntarily cutting back without being forced to do so. According to Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney representing a number of Delta growers, it is very hard to say how many farmers will actually take part in the initiative to avoid further restrictions for California residents, but for the farmers that do participate, their crops could be planted earlier in the season with more assurance.
According to Spaletta, when viewing the situation from a business perspective, it only seems most logical to take part in finding ways to come up with some type of solution to the state’s water crisis. California is now in a state of emergency, so to not help in the conservation of water will only lead to people being forced to conserve in the long run.
Communities all throughout California have been ordered by governor Jerry Brown to decrease their water use by 25 percent. State water officials have also encouraged the community to join farmers in the conservation by finding their own creative ways to cut back.
The residents of California have criticized the governor for not volunteering farmers to be the ones to cut back on their water use by 25 percent much earlier on, because what has resulted is communities being forced to do so. For the past two years, junior priority water rights holders have been ordered to stop pumping water from the river to irrigate their crops. California’s water drought has become so serious that state officials are saying that senior priority water rights holders, those who have the longest standing and most accessibility to state rivers, will soon be ordered to stop taking water, as well.
According to Spaletta, the State Water Resources Control Board are currently working out the details with a group of Delta farmers and in regards to the proposal, officials have given positive feedback. John Herrick, manager of the South Delta Water Agency, labeled the proposal a safe harbor, claiming that water users beyond the Delta in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds would be adopting it.
According to Michael George, a worker for the state water board as Delta Water Master, claims the proposal is just a risk assessment being made by the farmers who are in favor of making voluntary water cutbacks. George believes that California farmers voluntarily cutting back on water use by 25 percent while maintaining ambiguous regulations is a pretty good deal for them, but no one will be benefiting if regulatory ambiguity continues. Executive director of the state water board, Thomas Howard, will have the final say regarding the deal’s approval.
By Kameron Hadley
San Francisco Chronicle: California decision on farmer water cuts to apply broadly
ABC: California Farmers Propose Voluntary Cuts
Yahoo: California decision on farmer water cuts to apply broadly
Photo Courtesy of Eugene Kim’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License