During the winter, when the Central Valley’s fields are quiet, the Westside Pool Hall in Mendota fills with farm workers, like Jose Gonzalez Cardenas.
“If there’s no water, we’re not going to have work,” Cardenas said through a translator.
According to a report from University of the Pacific, thousands of Valley farm workers could be out of work this summer if the drought persists. Maria Rivera is one of them. She already knows she won’t have work in the melon fields this year.
“The company I work for has already told its employees that they’re only going to plant one field,” Rivera said, also through a translator. That's down from about 60 in a typical year.
Mendota is a poor city on the west side of Fresno County that revolves around agriculture. City Council member Joseph Riofrio owns this pool hall. He says the community is already bracing for the drought’s impact.
“We’re the facilitators that need to coordinate how people will get food, and how they’re going to get help paying the light bill. There are so many problems that come with being in this part of California, and being dependent on agriculture,” Riofio said.
Down the street, at La Fiesta Meat Market, farmworker Aurelio Duran said if it doesn’t rain, he might leave the region.
“Right now, I’m on unemployment. Perhaps I will need to look for work somewhere else,” Duran said through a translator.
During the 2009 drought, unemployment in Mendota topped 40 percent and the Valley as a whole lost 6,000 farm jobs. With water even scarcer this year, the economic impact could be even worse.
The City of Sacramento Department of Utilities reports Friday that city water customers saved more than one-billion gallons of water last month.
California's economy will see modest growth in 2015, with jobs in home building being a bright spot, and the drought having slight impact, according to the latest University of the Pacific's latest Business Forecast.
It appears messages about the need for water conservation are beginning to get through to Californians.
There’s been a drilling frenzy for water in the San Joaquin Valley during the drought. And it’s evident in the number of well permits issued by eight Central Valley counties. Capital Public Radio obtained the data from each county.
(AP) — The 6.0-magnitude earthquake in Northern California on August 24 is credited for shaking loose at least 200,000 gallons of groundwater a day, filling dry creek beds and parched streams.