Farmers agree to water cuts in drought-stricken California
California farmers have avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts as the state has accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce 25% consumption amid one of the worst droughts on record. California farmers hold some of the state's strongest water rights.
Officials are hoping that the deal agreed upon on Friday is going to serve as a model for more such kind of agreements with growers in the nation's top-producing farm state, wherein agriculture is accounting for 80% of all the water drawn from rivers, streams and the ground.
While announcing the agreement, Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the state Water Resources Control Board, said that they’re in a drought unprecedented in their time, due to which they are required to take unprecedented action.
Rare concession from the farmers has become the biggest indication of the severity of the water shortage in California. The state is suffering due its driest four years on record.
California water law was built to preserve the rights of so-called senior rights holders, including farmers and others whose acreage abuts rivers and streams, or whose claims to water date back to hundred years or more, as far back as Gold Rush days.
The offer has the potential to cover hundreds of farmers in the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, which is the heart of California's water system. According to the state's Department of Water Resources around 25% of all California river water runs through the delta.
Many farmers have come up with the offer after state officials gave them the warning that they were just days away from ordering the first cuts in over 30 years to the senior water rights holders' allotments.
The state has already issued an order to the cities and towns to cut their water use by 25%, curtailing water deliveries to many other farmers.