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US California drought: Regulators vote to restrict water acess for thousands of farmers amid severe drought

10:56  04 august  2021
10:56  04 august  2021 Source:   cnn.com

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(CNN) California water regulators voted Tuesday to restrict water access for thousands of Central Valley farmers as the state endures a severe drought . Amid one of California 's worst droughts , the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed has been suffering from low supply as demand continues to climb. "This drought is very real," said Karen Ross, secretary of California 's Department of Food and Agriculture. "It is a painful moment."

As California ’s multi-year drought rages on, consumers in the rest of the United States may soon be feeling the pinch at the grocery store as farmers around California reduce water and plant fewer crops. Now in the fourth year of a massive drought ‒ and facing only a year’s worth of water remaining in the state ‒ food prices in the US and agricultural unemployment in California are set to climb as farmers do what they can to conserve water and protect their investments.

California water regulators voted Tuesday to restrict water access for thousands of Central Valley farmers as the state endures a severe drought.

a view of a rocky mountain: In this aerial photo houseboats sit in low water on Lake Oroville as California's drought emergency worsens, July 25, 2021 in Oroville, California. Much of California in the western US is currently gripped by excessive heat, severe drought and a series of massive wildfires. © Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images In this aerial photo houseboats sit in low water on Lake Oroville as California's drought emergency worsens, July 25, 2021 in Oroville, California. Much of California in the western US is currently gripped by excessive heat, severe drought and a series of massive wildfires.

The California State Water Board unanimously agreed to issue an emergency order that bans some farmers from diverting water from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds to irrigate their crops.

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As California endures an increasingly brutal second year of drought , state water regulators are considering an emergency order that would bar thousands of Central Valley farmers from using stream and river water to irrigate their crops. On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board released a draft The measure, which was first reported by the Sacramento Bee, would bar some water rights holders from diverting surface water for agricultural and other purposes. The proposed regulation underscores just how dire matters have become as drought squeezes the American West.

- Drought -stricken California on Friday ordered the largest cuts on record to farmers holding some of the state's strongest water rights. Thousands of farmers with more recent, less secure claims to water have already been told to stop all pumping from the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds. They are turning to other sources of water , including wells, reservoirs and the expensive open market. Some farmers have built their businesses around that nearly guaranteed access to water .

Amid one of California's worst droughts, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed has been suffering from low supply as demand continues to climb.

"This drought is very real," said Karen Ross, secretary of California's Department of Food and Agriculture. "It is a painful moment."

Under the new order, Californians who plan to divert more than 55 gallons per day from rivers or streams in this region must submit a petition and proposal to the state's deputy director for approval. All water rights holders must also report their water use and submit a certification to comply with the new standards.

Any person, business or group that violates the order will be subject to possible penalties and fines, officials said. The water board said enforcement will be incremental and focused mainly on high-grade water violations that significantly impact water flow.

Difficult weather conditions make the harvest

 Difficult weather conditions make the harvest unfavorable weather hindered after presentation of the farmers association the harvest in Germany. © bodo Schackow / dpa central picture / dpa The cereal is partially downstream - frequent rains complicate the harvest. "In many regions, farmers fight the grain from the fields with the continued rain showers and 'steal'," said the President of the German Farmers Association, Joachim Rukied, in Berlin. The farmers would have to correct their earnings expectations down.

California will also increase its enforcement against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water by requiring agricultural water users to report more water use information to state regulators . Similar measures were considered during California 's 1970s drought but were never implemented, according to the governor's office. The timing and location of Brown’s announcement is significant because snowpack accounts for about 30 percent of California ’s water supply as it melts.

California Farm Bureau, as part of a national coalition representing thousands of western farmers , ranchers, water providers, businesses and communities, urged leaders of the U.S. Senate to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure. Citing an “acute and critical need” magnified California is answering the call to keep the tap open to millions of people who have fallen behind on their water bill payments through a recent billion investment from Gov. Gavin Newsom. The timely assistance comes amid serious economic fallout from the pandemic that caused record

The order must be approved by the Office of Administrative Law and filed with the Secretary of State before it becomes effective, according to a news release from the state water board. The regulations are expected to go into effect August 16, officials said.

The Delta is the state's largest surface water source, supplying two-thirds of Californians with at least some portion of their drinking water, according to regulators. Officials said the state is going through what is expected to be the second driest two-year period on record. April, May and June were the warmest and driest on record since 1896, they said.

During a comment period, residents acknowledged the crisis in the state, but some said the action violated due process rights and urged regulators to slow down implementation of the order. Some speakers said the order placed an unfair burden on mostly smaller farmers who would be left to prove their rights to water.

The drought has worsened significantly in California after months of record heat and little precipitation. In the most critically parched regions, wildfires are burning at incredible pace.

More than 95% of the West is in some level of drought, with nearly two-thirds in extreme or exceptional drought -- the two worst categories. Six states are entirely in drought conditions.

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usr: 3
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