California’s Central Valley farmers warn that they will sue the government for the latest water restrictions which they deem unfair since some of them have century-long water rights on their properties.
Farmers also claim that recent water restrictions are a lot harsher than the ones imposed in urban areas. In cities, regulators decided to force population to make water cuts of up to 25 percent, while for California farmers the cuts are 100 percent.
So, many of them fear that they would go bankrupt since they use water to keep their crops, orchards and pastures green and later make some money out of it to be able to pay off their property taxes.
Jones family explained that they have a senior water right to use the water flowing from a gulch claimed by Mr. Jones’ grandfather in 1911. But that right was suspended June 13, so they are no longer able to water the pasture they use to rent to local farmers who use it for their cattle.
But there are more than 100 people like the Jones, with ironclad rights that were suspended for the first time in decades or more than a century. State regulators argued that the move was absolutely necessary since the waterways in Central Valley are too dry to meet the demand.
“The place is going to look like hell. It’s going to dry up and become a star-thistle patch. It’s not going to be good for us,”
sighed Danna Jones who now has no other means of paying her property taxes.
Nevertheless, thousands of farmers, businesses and water districts hold water rights that were historically shielded since forever. They now plan to resort to lawsuits to keep it like before, despite California drought entering its fourth year.
A couple of water districts announced that they would go to court next week. Their lawyers explained that the small family farmers whom the districts serve depend only on the water flow from the San Joaquin River since they have no backup supplies in reservoirs or wells.
If the farmers are denied access to the river, the trees in their orchards would die and many farmers would go bankrupt, one of the lawyers explained. The attorney also underlined that the water cuts are 100 % in rural areas, not 25 % like in the urban areas.
State Water Resources Control Board, the body which releases the cutback orders, recommended farmers and others affected by the recent restrictions to find alternate solutions such as tapping groundwater, using supplies, letting fields go dry, or simply purchasing water.
Image Source: KALW