From News Line, a daily compilation of farm water news distributed to CFWC members and others upon request. To receive News Line, click here.
Coalition response…Farmers use only 41 percent of the available water supply in California, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The rest goes to the environment (48 percent) and cities/businesses (11 percent). Water users throughout California, including farmers, homeowners and businesses, pay their share of costs to receive the water. Urban users pay for water quality treatment, pressurization in distribution systems and a reliability that assures water will be there when faucets are turned. Farmers do not pay these costs because they do not receive the same benefits. Attempts to characterize water rates that farmers pay as “very low” ignores how rates are set.
Those who benefit from the use of water on farms are consumers who have come to rely upon a safe and healthy food supply in grocery stores.
That supply of water to California farms has been reduced in recent years because of regulations to protect endangered fish, namely the Delta smelt. Instead of sending water to users who have a right to it, the water is kept in the Delta and allowed to flow to the ocean. Federal water officials have yet to provide demonstrable proof that their actions are achieving their intended results.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its proposed tunnels will greatly reduce the impacts on endangered fish. The Plan will restore a reliable supply of water that is delivered to 3 million acres of farmland and 25 million Californians. At the same time, ecosystem restoration will take place in the Delta that will benefit habitat and wildlife. Without implementation of BDCP, water supplies will continue to be reduced and endangered fish will suffer.