Governor Brown’s recent drought response has raised the question as to whether he was going easy on agriculture. While municipalities face mandated cuts, agriculture does not. Surely this means farmers are off the hook, right?
As usual, it isn’t that simple.Yes, this particular action did not place mandatory reductions on agriculture. But it is worth noting that in some parts of the state, farmers had already seen their water deliveries drop to zero… long before the general public was even paying attention to the issue. Many local groundwater basins are already restricting their deliveries,since they must work with the water they have on hand, regardless of what Sacramento says or does.
Water cutbacks arrived for many farmers a long time ago, and more will follow. The current emergency order is just another page in the unfinished story of the California drought. This page happened to be about urban restrictions. It is not the end of the story.
PS: Petty Ranch is within the Santa Paula Basin… one of the few adjudicated and managed groundwater basins in the state. We have an allocation of 116 acre feet of water, but during 2014 drew only 86 AF… 26% below our allocation. Put another way, we conserved more last year than our urban neighbors will be asked to conserve this year. Like most farmers, we are working very hard to drive that number even lower in 2015.