NewsCalifornia Drought


State warns farmers of potential water shutoffs due to drought

Farmers say this could lead to catastrophe.
Californias Giant Tunnels
Posted at 9:37 AM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 12:37:47-04

(KERO) — As drought conditions continue to wreak havoc on farmland throughout California officials are warning that water cutoffs could be on the way.

The warning from the state to thousands of farmers that their water could be shut off is more than just a cautionary notice for the agricultural community

"Essentially if you don't have a well, you're really facing some hard times," said Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of the Western United Dairymen. "We've already seen about 15-percent of our workforce severely impacted by this drought."

Farmers say this could lead to catastrophe.

"Real concern about what this is going to mean to those agricultural operations," said Bruce Blodgett of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau.

The state water resources board notified 6,600 farmers on Tuesday that they could face water cutoffs as the state deals with the ongoing drought. Dry conditions that have already cut off federal and state irrigation supplies.

Raudabaugh says a number of farmers have fallowed land meaning acres will not be used and left untouched.

"We are seeing unprecedented amounts of fallowing. We've already lost several corn crops across the state."

"If you have orchards or vineyards and you're told to cut back your water, cut off your water, you're essentially killing that orchard and that vineyard," added Blodgett.

Blodgett says what could happen is that smaller operations may have no choice but to shut down which could lead to layoffs and a loss of revenue for county governments.

"Some people can make planning decisions if they get this notice in time, to not plant some crops, but for those that have permanent crops, this could be devastating."

The state says the cutoff may continue until winter rains come.

In the meantime, farmers do their best to mitigate potential devastation by recycling water.

"That big investment in recycled water has been something that your local dairy farm has been... It's on the top of their priority list," said Raudabaugh.