By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
Bill Diedrich a Firebaugh-based
famer with farming operations in Firebaugh, Madera, and the I-5 Corridor west
of Firebaugh, is planning for next year on some of his land.
|Prime Westside farm land left fallow due to lack of water.|
“Right now all my almonds are
in, and if you have any water, you may be putting on a post harvest irrigation.
We are getting fields ready for the dormant period and hopefully tons and tons of
rain,” Diedrich said.
He also farms tomatoes, pomegranates,
prunes, wine grapes, cotton, walnuts and alfalfa.
Diedrich is among the few
growers who will plant tomatoes next season. His tomatoes are grown in
Firebaugh, in the Firebaugh Canal District with Exchange Contractor water, “so
we are in good shape,” Diedrich said.
“For growers who farm
tomatoes in Westlands, Panoche or San Luis Federal Water Districts, they are
all in jeopardy because who will use water on tomatoes when their almonds are
drying up?” he asked. “There will be very few tomatoes planted on land served
by Federal Water, except in areas where growers may have decent ground water; but
that’s even in jeopardy because the ground water is being so over-pumped,
because of surface water cut backs due to environmental restrictions.”
“The real ecological disaster
that is taking place is the one no one sees. It’s the underground aquifer that
is being drained because of severe reductions in surface water. And what is
really sad is that this is a true ecological disaster, instead of an invented
one, regarding the smelt in the Delta. Once you lose that source base down
below, which happens due to settling, it doesn’t come back."
A large part of Dietrich’s
investment is on the I-5 corridor with 600 acres of almonds, and that is all in
jeopardy. “We have been lucky in securing enough surface water and have not had
to use well water. If well water is used, there is definitely a salt problem.
Diedrich noted that there are
some growers on the Westside who are only on Federal Water deliveries and have no wells. “These guys will be catastrophically affected if we do not
get enough water delivered next season,” he said. “And it’s all so
unjustified,” Diedrich noted. “Exporting the water is not the problem. It’s
the predator fish and the pollution coming down the river from Sacramento.”
Diedrich is active with water
management as he serves on the Board of the San Luis Water District and has served two
two-year terms on the State’s Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA).
Diedrich noted that he would soon step down from the ACWA Board to take a break
and focus more on his business. He noted that the ACWA has a few farmers
on the board, but it could certainly use more grower representation.
He noted that his 35 acres of
pomegranates are just starting to be harvested. He said, while the juice market
is not good, he has a deal with a packer for arils and the fresh market. “The
quality is just super this year so we expect a good fresh pack out. We are not
altogether sure of how much money we will make with the pomegranates; we’re
just hoping that we lose less than we lost last year. So many people have taken
their pomegranates out because it was definitely over done.”
“We are going to sit with
them a year or two and see how this year’s pack out goes,” Diedrich said.
Labels: Bill Diedrich, Exchange Contrator water, Firebaugh, Needed Rain, Rain Needed, Westside tomatoes