California Drought Strikes Fear in Farmers

California is experiencing a drought emergency. Why is this happening, and how is it affecting farmers?

drought
Courtesy of Fikret Onal via Flickr

This morning a highly-anticipated announcement from Governor Jerry Brown confirmed what farmers have been saying for weeks: California is experiencing a drought emergency. This is the third year in a row that California has experienced drought, with 2013 being the driest year on record. Farmers are worried.

Laura Avery spoke with two farmers who sell at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers’ market, Troy Regier and Dawn Canter. Troy Regier is a family farmer based in Reedley, and he said that the lack of rainfall and snow has meant that the lakes his produce depends on are drying up quickly. This threatens his water stores for the summer that his peach crops depend on.

“This summer for the first time in 25 years, we actually ran out of water in the Kaweah North Fork River, and that’s what we use to water our crops,” said Dawn Canter, a farmer of Flora Bella Farms based in Three Rivers. She added that their farm has in the meantime been using greenhouses to grow row crops because they can use drip irrigation.”We’re wondering if that’s our future,” she said.

Paul Rogers of  San Jose Mercury News helps explain why this is happening. He attributes the drought to a high-pressure wall that has built up on the West Coast. Rogers writes, “Like a brick wall, the mass of high pressure air has been blocking Pacific winter storms from coming ashore in California, deflecting them up into Alaska and British Columbia, even delivering rain and cold weather to the East Coast.”

The effects of the drought are so severe, that they can even be seen from space.

Governor Jerry Brown has urged Californians to cut back 20% of their water use, but said that this effort will remain voluntary. A group called Save Our Water has created a guide that outlines easy ways to save water for both indoors and outdoors.

Listen to the full interviews with Troy Regier and Dawn Canter, below.