5/23/15 #SJSreports
As the West Gets Drier, Californians Look to Farmers for a Water Conservation Solution

by Macrina

A dusty tire lies abandoned in this cracked Californian field in this Dust-Bowl-like photograph.


      California, a Western state which has been battling its latest drought since 2011, has recently asked its farmers to "pitch in" and help save water. The drought in California is especially dangerous this year, and national drought maps read "exceptional drought" throughout a very large portion of the country. Farmers use thousands of gallons of water per year-- one whole gallon of water is needed to produce just one almond-- so farmers with rights to water along the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are willing to reduce the amount of water they take from the river by at least twenty-five percent, in exchange for the privilege to not be forced to comply to orders for further water reduction from the river during the June-September growing season (Christian Science Monitor). An alternative plan would be for the farmers in this area to leave a portion of their fields unsown. Either method the farmers choose would conserve the much-needed water from the river. John Herrick, general manager of the South Delta Water Agency, suggests that farmers all over California who have rights to a river should adopt the same water-saving plan as the farmers in this river delta, before they are forced to conserve more than this amount by the Californian government. "...[I]t's a get out of jail free card," Herrick says (Los Angeles Times). Rudy Mussi, a farmer who owns 4,000 acres of cropland in the delta, told reporters: "I'm being asked to give up 25 percent of my paycheck" (WRCB-TV). If Herrick's prediction that farmers who don't conserve water now may be forced to conserve even more water later, farmers like Mussi, who literally can't afford to cut down on water, may find themselves with dry, dead crops and no jobs, assuming that the drought has not killed most of their crops already. As the drought seems to worsen in California and the West, residents of the thirsty state, who are already doing all they can to conserve precious water, can only hope that all farmers with river rights will agree to do the same.

Works Cited:

Knickerbocker, Brad. "California Farmers Agree to Cut Water Use. Enough to Stem the       

      Drought?" The Christian Science Monitor. <http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-      


      drought>. 23 May 2015.

Boxall, Bettina, and Geoffrey Mohan. "Mandatory Usage Cuts Loom Even for Those with      

      Senior Water Rights." Los Angeles Times. <http://www.latimes.com/science/la-me-

      water-rights-20150522-story.html>. 21 May 2015.

Knickmeyer, Ellen, and Scott Smith. "California Farmers Agree to Drastically Cut Water               

      Use." WRCB-TV. <http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/29140192/california-farmersagree-

      to-drastically-cut-water-use>. 18 May 2015.

Farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have already agreed to reduce their river water consumption by 25%.

This video (above) from PBS provides an interview with Dale Kasler of
the Sacramento Bee.

In case of video failure, click on this link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rQvWKmoNGsE

For more news stories about the event, visit the related links below:  

A Californian farmer walks amid the dried remains of his field.
In less than a tree-year period (2011-2014), Folsom Lake has nearly dissapeared from the thirsty Californian landscape.
A sign in the background of this parched field reads "Food Grows Where Water Flows."
The severity of the drought can be reflected once more in this before-and-after gif, which shows a nearly unrecognizable landscape.
This picture from the California Department of Water Resources shows the water use per year, in gallons.
A trickle of precious water flows through an irrigation canal.

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Picture Citations:

Cover Photo: http://media.mwcradio.com/mimesis/2014-05/20/2014-05-20T010114Z_1_CBREA4J02UR00_RTROPTP_3_USREPORT-US-USA-CALIFORNIA-DROUGHT-JOBS_JPG_475x310_q85.jpg