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Inter-County Water Transfer From Merced To Stanislaus Faces Opposition

Ken Lund / Flickr

Ken Lund / Flickr

A proposal to send groundwater from Merced County to farmers in Stanislaus County is facing stiff opposition. Farmers in west Stanislaus County could lose tens of thousands of acres of almond orchards without the water.

The need for water is desperate in west Stanislaus County...45,000 acres of farmland served by the Del Puerto Water District are without water.

Del Puerto wants to buy groundwater from two landowners in east Merced County. The water would be pumped from underground and shipped to Del Puerto's clients.

Del Puerto Director Anthea Hansen says without the water almond orchards will die. 

"If that doesn't happen the trees are gone, we are ground zero and we are in your county," said Hansen.

Del Puerto serves 9,000 acres on Merced County's west side.

The groundwater would require 13 wells operating 24 hours a day for eight months to produce 23,000 acre feet, and the same amount for possibly three more years.

Merced County farmer Bob Weiser says that could lower his groundwater table and leave him without water this summer to protect orchards that have no protection from drought. 

”We're sustaining these crops that perhaps should have never been planted in the first place," said Weiser.

The Merced County Board of Supervisors is questioning the water transfer and has asked the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for more time to consider the effects.

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