California Farmers Volunteer to Use Less Water


Image: Don McCullough via Flickr CC.

Farmers across California will be drastically cutting their water use to help conserve the dwindling supplies in California. On Friday, officials approved a plan for farmers from one region of the state to give up a quarter of the water they would use during this year’s growing season. The farmers from Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have given state officials an offer to give up a quarter of their water this season, either by leaving part of their land unplanted or finding other ways to reduce their water use.

The deal although important, is a relatively small number of growers that officials hope will prompt similar behavior and agreements throughout the state’s agriculture industry, which uses 80 percent of the water consumed in the state in a normal year.

“We’re in an unprecedented drought, and we have to exercise the state’s water rights in an unprecedented way,” said Felicia Marcus, the chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. “This is a breakthrough in what has long been a rhetorical battle. It’s a significant turning point to have people say, ‘We know this is complicated. We want to do something early in good faith that is a pragmatic solution for everyone.’ ”

The drought in California is so serious that the Governor announced big mandatory cuts to water usage this week, for the first time in state history. The scary part is that according to NASA, the sate only has about a year of water left in its reservoirs. In addition, the state only had about 5% of its normal snowpack this year.

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