Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Valley Farmers Fallow Fields, Drill Wells, Auction Water To Cope With Drought

Feb 4, 2014

The Delta Mendota Canal is used to bring water to thousands of acres of valley farmland in a normal year (file photo)

Last Friday, the State Water Project took the unprecedented step of cutting projected water allocations for its contractors to zero. And other water users, including those who get supplies from the federal Central Valley Project are expecting severe cuts of their own. 

The drought has prompted many farmers to fallow their fields, and growers of permanent crops like almonds, grapes and pistachios are scrambling to find backup supplies to keep their trees and vines alive this year. 

Some, like columnist Lois Henry of the Bakersfield Californian have suggested that the boom in permanent crops in the last decade was unwise given the state's unreliable water supple. Others, like Kerman farmer Paul Betancourt say the current drought underscores the need for the state to build more water infrastructure. Both Henry and Betancourt joined us on Valley Edition to talk about everything from growers removing their orchards to complex water transfers.