No Federal Water For Farmers; Officials Mulling ‘Legality’ Of Mandatory Rationing
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Farmers throughout Southern California and statewide were given a dire forecast Friday from federal officials who said they would receive no irrigation water amid a historic drought.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday it will continue to monitor rain and snowfall, but at this point, there’s not enough water in the Central Valley Project to give water to farmers, the Associated Press reported.
After receiving 20 percent of their normal allowance last year, Central Valley farmers will receive zero percent after Friday’s announcement, according to the Associated Press.
Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition said the federal government’s decision was not surprising in the wake of a drought that has led to some big changes in the industry.
“A lot of idling of farm land, 780 square miles, roughly the size of Los Angeles and San Diego combined,” Wade said.
Governor Jerry Brown and state lawmakers announced legislation this week to provide $687.4 million to support drought relief, including money for housing and food for workers directly impacted by the drought and funding for securing emergency drinking water supplies for drought-impacted communities.
Brown told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that while Los Angeles remains slightly better off than other parts of the state due to investments in reservoirs and other water facilities, his administration has begun to consider mandatory rationing for every California resident.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a mandatory rationing of water throughout the entire state,” said Brown. “We’re just looking into the practicality and the legality of that.”
The drought was also the focus of a weather science webcast Friday at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, which will examine how scientists hope to better predict changing weather patterns to give more advance warning of expected extreme conditions.
Aquarium Operations Officer John Dumas said while forecasters can’t look too far ahead with accuracy, current conditions are comparable to the 100-year statewide drought of 1877.
“If you look at the weather pattern that happened that year, it was the same thing: there was one of those big highs in the Gulf of Alaska, the big trough over the central U.S.,” he said. “So it did look very similar then.”
Officials say 2013 marked the third consecutive dry year for California.
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