Thursday, December 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

California drought idles huge swaths of farmland

By
From page A1 | July 16, 2014 |

FRESNO — Hundreds of thousands of acres of rich California farmland has gone unplanted this year because of drought, and researchers said Tuesday that next year could be even worse, with some farmers possibly losing their last source of water as wells run dry.

The University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences released a study finding that farmers struggling with drought left nearly 430,000 acres unplanted this year, costing the California economy $2.2 billion and 17,000 jobs.

Researchers say chances are high for yet another dry year in 2015, which would force farmers to rely even more heavily on groundwater for irrigation.

“It’s tougher than we thought,” Richard Howitt, a University of California, Davis professor emeritus of agriculture and resource economics.

The study used computer modeling, NASA satellite data and estimates provided by state and federal water agencies to examine the impact on California under continued dry conditions. The research was presented at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

California, which leads the nation in production of more than a dozen crops with a $44.7 billion agriculture industry, is now in its third dry year. The drought has hit the Central Valley the hardest.

The drought has not driven up food prices because crops such as corn and grain can be grown in other areas of the country, and farmers in California can use their more expensive water on specialty crops such as almonds that already fetch a high price from consumers, Howitt said.

To nourish those crops, farmers have been pumping more groundwater as the mountain snowpack sends less water to state reservoirs and canals. Howitt urged farmers to take the lead in managing their scarce groundwater.

The groundwater is not being replenished, and Howitt said continuing pumping will cause up to 10 percent of wells in the southern Central Valley to dry up.

“My message to farmers is treat groundwater like you treat your retirement account,” Howitt said in an interview. “Know how much water’s in it and how fast it’s being used.”

California is the only western state that doesn’t measure groundwater use, and Howitt said demanding more of wells is a short-term solution with long-term costs.

“It’s very simple economics, but it’s such an emotional topic,” said Howitt. “Farmers have to sit down and ask themselves… do they want their children and grandchildren to be farming?”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture requested the research.

Karen Ross, the department’s secretary, said she recognizes the critical state of California’s groundwater and the need for local officials to manage it. If that does not happen, Ross said the state will intervene.

Millions of Californians depend on ground supplies for drinking water, she said, adding that farmers have a large role to play.

“It’s not if there will be future droughts,” Ross said in an interview. “There will be future droughts, and we need to take our lessons and prepare ourselves as much as possible.”

Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences, said he doesn’t anticipate a rainy El Niño next year to rescue California. As a result, the state needs to implement a variety of measures, such as conservation and managing groundwater and reservoirs, he said.

Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau, said losses attributed to the drought could have been avoided if state leaders had added more reservoirs rather than focusing on conservation for decades.

He also said the Farm Bureau has long supported groundwater management at a local level.

“Statewide regulation certainly won’t fix our groundwater needs, just as it has failed to provide solutions to surface water needs,” he said.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Christmas Eve event features Bible, bikes

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

It’s easy to remember some Christmas memories

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Man’s walk for peace enters Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 17 Comments | Gallery

 
$3,500 nets Dixon man $9, he says

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

Deadline nears for BookFest authors’ contest

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Suisun waterfront to host restaurant week

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

Conservancy schedules next Quail Ridge hike

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield man wants $28,828 returned

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 11 Comments

Fairfield police log: Dec. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Dec. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Dec. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Governor issues 105 pardons, many for drug crimes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
10 years after tsunami, Indonesian family reborn

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Storm expected to bring Christmas snow to Sierra

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Sony broadly releases ‘The Interview’ in reversal of plans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Regulations would expand coastal California sanctuaries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Officer kills armed 18-year-old near Ferguson

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 7 Comments

Interrogation program mismanaged, Senate, CIA agree

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Denver shelters cite legal pot in homeless upswing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

After NYC deaths, a surge of support for police

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Abe takes office for 3rd term as Japan’s leader

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Russia: NATO pushed Kiev to drop nonaligned status

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Russia in offer to help firms with foreign debts

By T. Burt McNaughton | From Page: A7

 
NKorea outage a case study in online uncertainties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Curfew in India state after rebels kill 63

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Cuba’s relations with Catholic Church hit high point

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Iraq: Suicide attack kills 24 people near Baghdad

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Sony tries to save face with ‘Interview’ flip-flop

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Who hacked Sony becomes Internet’s new mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Immunity and interrogators: a second look

By Walter Pincus | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

My grandson wants what for Christmas?

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Letting go

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
A partridge in a pear tree will cost a bit more this year

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Court denies Polanski’s motion to dismiss 1977 sex case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Sports

 
Domestic violence at forefront of NFL in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Alabama’s Sims proves critics wrong with big season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Associated Press Sports Story of the Year Winners

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Masters races to keep field under 100 players

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Typical NFL season: smiles for some, frowns for others

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA prepares for Christmas coming-out party

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B2

 
Titans lead Bucs for top pick in NFL draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tyler Summitt easing into head coaching career

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Elvis Stojko, Bourne bring skating to small stage

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B2

New-Look NBA: In Milwaukee, a new hope rises

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sharks forward John Scott suspended 4 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Honda recalls 1,252 Crosstours over side air bags

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Applications for US jobless aid fall to 7-week low

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Walmart tests gift card exchange

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Unions make push to recruit protected immigrants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 3 Comments

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9