No Rain, Tough Future For Farmers & Farm Workers!
MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KMPH) —
We all remember the water crisis just five years ago that left fields fallowed and Westside communities lining up for food.
Now, some are saying this year could be even worse.
One look at San Luis Reservoir shows how bad it is.
Unlike the watersheds near the foothills that hold runoff from melting snow, the San Luis Reservoir gets most of its water pumped to it from the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta and no rain means tighter restrictions for everyone.
Almond grower, Mike Wood says, "You go from being an almond farmer into the firewood business."
For 65 years, the Wood family has been working the ground near Interstate 5 in Mendota but he wonders for how much longer.
Wood says for years growers have been dealing with a bureaucratic drought, due to environmental pumping restrictions.
Now combined with a natural drought, and anticipation of a March first announcement of zero percent allocation of water, he says something's got to give.
Wood says, "We employ 5 people that all have families. On a season basis as many as 30 people, not counting contract labor we bring in here. So there is a ripple effect that goes through the valley. It's not just the farmer."
Wood says with 670 acres of almond trees unless significant rain or snow shows up in the next few months, he may be forced to pump well water to survive.
However, the groundwater contains a lot of salt and could kill the trees.
Wood says, "We could survive this with a lot less pain, if we just had some type of legislative relief from the endangered species act."
However, as of right now, there is no sign of that legislative relief on the horizon.
Growers say until lawmakers go to their faucets to get a drink and nothing comes out, things will not going to change.