“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.”
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.
Last year, California saw everything from intense drought to torrential rain. Researchers and water agencies say that the future of the state’s drought depends on adapting to these shifts.
As the drought dries up California’s wetlands, traveling birds such as ducks, geese and eagles are struggling to survive and breed. “This drought is bad. The odds are against us,” a state expert said.
Drought resilience depends on location but also extraordinary engineering — determining which California places are running out of water this year and which remain in good shape.
About 4,300 users were issued notices to halt diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Experts say the current drought is hotter and drier than previous ones, meaning water is evaporating faster.
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