We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 
 We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 

Drought Stretches Calif. Farmers' Water Supply

Photo by Curtis Haynes

The Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant near Tracy, Calif.

Photo by Curtis Haynes

“The water is so short this year that it’s driven the price of water up,” says Frank Zonneveld, who grows nuts, hay, corn and tomatoes in Kings and Fresno counties

So since he can no longer rely on surface deliveries from watersheds or the federal Central Valley Project, he’s turning to underground wells instead.

“And I don’t know where all my wells are sitting at. As the water table’s drawn down more heavily, some of my pumps could be sitting shallower, and they could be out of reach of water.  And then I’ll have to – if the well’s deep enough, I’ll have to lower the pumps. If not, I’ll have to dig new wells.”

~Frank Zonneveld

But well drillers’ waiting lists are long – several months for Zonneveld, more than a year for another farmer.

And then, there are the farmers who grow crops in the Westlands area – the western part of Kern and Kings counties.  They’re the ones who rely solely on the State Water Project – and on Friday, they learned they’ll get no water at all this year.  They don’t have wells to turn to, meaning they’ll have to choose which parts of their land to leave empty.

Related Stories

  • @BLMca / Twitter

    Central California Fire Burns Structures, Spurs Evacuation

    Friday, June 24, 2016

    UPDATE June 26: Fire managers says the Erskine Fire near Lake Isabella in Kern County has grown to 43,460 acres and is 40 percent contained. Two people have died, and more than 250 structures have been destroyed and an additional 75 damaged.

  • Santa Barbara City Fire / Courtesy

    Elevated Fire Danger In California As Drought Persists

    Thursday, June 23, 2016

    Not much change is expected in drought conditions in California during the summer "dry season" but wildfire danger is increasing, with 66 million dead trees in the Sierra Nevada adding potential fuel.

  • Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

    Sacramento-Area Water Conservation 31 Percent In May

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016

    California is in the fifth consecutive year of drought and water providers continue to urge voluntary conservation, as mandatory statewide rules have ended. Sacramento-area residents reduced their water use by 31 percent in May.