Water District Supports Long- and Short-Term Governmental Solutions for Water
Westlands Water District expressed its support
TODAY of federal and state governments’ efforts to address California's water
crisis and the conditions that are causing both near- and long-term water
"We applaud the leadership of elected
officials to bring attention to California's water crisis and the ramifications
of current conditions and policies," said Thomas W. Birmingham, General Manager, Westlands Water District.
"State and federal government action is needed to resolve the immediate
water supply shortages and provide farmers and communities with reasonable
assurance that they have the water resources needed to operate their businesses
and keep people at work."
"We cannot afford another year of uncertainty
that will harm an industry that generates billions of dollars in economic
activity and plays such an important role in the lives of the people that
depend on agriculture," said Birmingham.
The San Joaquin Valley faces the prospect of a
record low water allocation, an historic low point in water supply reliability,
and yet another year of extreme economic hardship. Without substantive action
to address water supply problems, agricultural production will be greatly
impacted, which will have negative consequences for numerous industries and
thousands of jobs that directly or indirectly rely on the agricultural industry.
This problem affects not just the Central Valley, but also the whole state of
Westlands encompasses more than 600,000 acres of
farmland in western Fresno and Kings Counties. The District serves
approximately 700 family-owned farms that average 875 acres in size. Westlands
farmers produce more than 60 high quality commercial food and fiber crops sold
for the fresh, dry, canned and frozen food markets, both domestic and export.
More than 50,000 people live and work in the communities dependent on the
District's agricultural economy.
If unaddressed, the drought would pose a potential
economic impact to the region exceeding $1 billion dollars. Indirect ripple effects
of an economic downturn in agricultural production could impact related
businesses including food processing, distribution, retailers, grocers, and
Westlands is calling upon policymakers to learn
from those lessons of the past. The previous water crisis in 2009 caused
farmers to fallow more than 300,000 acres of land and change their crops and
production levels. Statewide, income losses were estimated at $2.8 billion and
more than 95,000 jobs were lost. High levels of unemployment left communities
in financial peril.
Now, the same water supply conditions are creating
the same ramifications that devastated San Joaquin Valley communities in 2009;
however, impacts are expected to be more severe because there are fewer options
and coping mechanisms available now. Groundwater supplies are low, land is
subsiding, and reservoirs are far below average levels. Therefore, Westlands is
encouraging state and federal policy changes to provide water now.
"Westlands strongly supports federal and state
efforts to implement a long-term solution to improve water reliability through
the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. We will continue to work with the agencies and
officials to make that plan a reality. However, the current crisis demonstrates
the need for a near-term solution. We
cannot wait any longer. The time is now to recognize the importance of a
reliable water supply and to take action to protect the hardworking families of
the Central Valley, and the broader California economy," said
Labels: Federal water crisis, San Joaquin Valley low water allocation, state water crisis, Westlands Asks Government For Water Solutions, Westlands Water District Supports Government Solutions for Water Crisis