Source: California Farm Bureau Federation news release
As California Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to the state’s drought emergency today, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said the state must improve its water system to end chronic water shortages that still confront many Californians.
“By one measure, the California drought certainly has ended. By another, it never ends,” Wenger said.
“Even with all this rain and snow, farmers in parts of the Central Valley still face water shortages because of conflicts over endangered species fish protection and other restrictions,” he said. “The federal Central Valley Project is offering only two-thirds of contract supplies this year to many of its farm customers, and supplies from the State Water Project will be only slightly better. In Southern California, soaring water prices force farmers to cut down productive avocado trees. Farmers have made significant improvement in water efficiency—producing ‘more crop per drop’—and that will continue. But continued shortages force many farmers into tough decisions about whether they can sustain their crops and their businesses.”
Wenger noted that much of the water swelling California rivers and streams this spring represents “a lost opportunity.”
“All of us will wish we had that water available when we have our next dry winter. That could be next year, or the year after, but we know drought will come again, probably soon,” he said.
“It’s up to us to do something to prevent the chronic water shortages some of us face now and the severe shortages all of us face when rain and snow falls short,” Wenger said. “California needs more reservoirs to capture more of these flood flows when they occur, so we can both lessen the chances for catastrophic floods and bank that water for the dry years we know will come.”
Now that Gov. Brown has declared an end to the drought, Wenger said, “We hope he will push for passage of the 2012 water bond. To meet the new water demand from urban growth and for environmental restoration, California must begin the investments needed to improve and modernize our water system.”
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of approximately 76,500 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 6.3 million Farm Bureau members.