Feds Withhold Water To California Farmers For First Time In 54 Years

Tyler Durden's picture

The US Bureau of Reclamation released its first outlook of the year and finds insufficient stock is available in California to release irrigation water for farmers. This is the first time in the 54 year history of the State Water Project. "If it's not there, it's just not there," notes a Water Authority director adding that it's going to be tough to find enough water, but farmers are hit hardest as "they're all on pins and needles trying to figure out how they're going to get through this." Fields will go unplanted (supply lower mean food prices higher), or farmers will pay top dollar for water that's on the market (and those costs can only be passed on via higher food prices).


Via AP,

Federal officials announced Friday that many California farmers caught in the state's drought can expect to receive no irrigation water this year from a vast system of rivers, canals and reservoirs interlacing the state.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its first outlook of the year, saying that the agency will continue to monitor rain and snow fall, but the grim levels so far prove that the state is in the throes of one of its driest periods in recorded history.

Unless the year turns wet, many farmers can expect to receive no water from the federally run Central Valley Project.

... the state's snowpack is at 29 percent of average for this time of year.


California officials who manage the State Water Project, the state's other major water system, have already said they won't be releasing any water for farmers, marking a first in its 54-year history.


"They're all on pins and needles trying to figure out how they're going to get through this," Holman said, adding that Westland's 700 farmers will choose to leave fields unplanted, draw water from wells or pay top dollar for water that's on the market.

Farmers are hit hardest, but they're not alone. Contractors that provide cities with water can expect to receive half of their usual amount, the Bureau said, and wildlife refuges that need water flows in rivers to protect endangered fish will receive 40 percent of their contracted supply.

Contractors that provide farmers with water and hold historic agreements giving them senior rights will receive 40 percent of their normal supplies. Some contracts date back over a century and guarantee that farmers will receive at least 75 percent of their water.

One of those is the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority in Los Banos that provides irrigation for 240,000 acres of farmland.

The Water Authority's executive director Steve Chedester said farmers he serves understand that the reality of California's drought means it's going to be tough to find enough water for them. "They're taking a very practical approach," he said. "If it's not there, it's just not there."

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Flakmeister's picture

Burn Baby Burn...

The Vineyard's picture

Global warming will kill us all.  Bitches.

HulkHogan's picture

What did you link have to do with anything? But you're right, Global Warming will kill us all. Not because it will get too hot for us humans, but it will get too hot for our habitat to grow food and native trees. We have 5-10 years to find another way to grow food or we are going to be in big trouble. We have 20 years to find other sources of fresh water or we'll be in worse trouble. 

ZerOhead's picture

As we all know the American economy as well as California agriculture are in extremely dire straits these days with both at severe risk of drying up and dying. Here's a solution to both problems even a lawyer like Obama couldn't (probably) fuck up.

I call it the California Re-hydration And Crony Kickback pipeline... AKA CRACKpipe.


The Columbia river discharges an average of 7,500 cubic meters (or 6 acre feet) of water per second. The annual discharge would irrigate around 180,000,000 acres (around 300,000 square miles) with 3 feet of water and could yield crops worth over $200,000,000,000 annually.


All we need to do is construct an offshore pipeline that travels on the bottom of the ocean to California for less than a couple of trillion dollars including graft and corruption charges and hope that Obamas economic advisors don't decide that 180,000 18 hole golf courses yield a higher rate of return...

Professorlocknload's picture

So, will they keep turning water to ethanol?

ZerOhead's picture

No... but only because Jesus has a patent on that particular technology and his lawyers are threatening legal action.


Did I mention that as a bonus Los Angeles will receive free fresh salmon deliveries each fall?

jbvtme's picture

no h2o for that $10K per acre scrubland?  i can hear the bankers howl over the coyotes...

CheapBastard's picture

This is making me thirsty. However, anything from Fuki Cali will not be on my plate whether it's a veggie or fish.

NoDebt's picture

Agenda 21.  Ahead of schedule.

Muppet Pimp's picture

Time to have the ministry of mental masturbation and snowpack analysis and start calculating how much runoff we will get from all of these heavy snows and determine how much each resevoir gets.  Something tells me the Colorado is gonna run like it hasn't in years.  Hopefully them fellers down in Texas will get some of it, they got some resevoirs that need a fillin.

No the comment did not directly address the californians drought.  Out of our 1300 federal agencies which six are determining the runoff from snowpack? 

XitSam's picture

"...the Colorado is gonna..." if you mean the Colorado River, it will drain into the Gulf of California just like always.  Texas isn't getting anything from the Colorado River.

gmrpeabody's picture

The Colorado River's real name is the Grand. So, perhaps his has mistaken the Rio Grande for the real Grand? Easy to do...


IREN Colorado's picture

The Colorado River no longer makes it to the Gulf of California. It hasn't in about 50 years. It turns into a waddi just below the Mexican Border where the Mexican Farmers use it to grow vegtables that you used to buy from California but can no longer because it is barely legal to run a business in California, with or without water.

Where I am it is very full right now and definately headed higher but everyone downstream is below quota so not much will get to Mexifornia.

giggler321's picture

Agenda 21 - ok but one other thing, even Monsanto's super corn can't grow without water so they've f***ed themselves

palmereldritch's picture

Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown...........

Water Privatization in Bolivia


Engineered Drought Catastrophe, Target California

Most of the “the golden state” is now parched, baked and dried far beyond any historical precedent. Reservoirs are nearly empty, streams are drying up, and forests are dying by the day. Catastrophic fires will also continue to decimate California due to the engineered drought.


Drought Tolerant Corn from Monsanto and BASF!!

Yeah Science!!

(with a bonus vax advert?!!)

zhandax's picture

Grow the shit in Florida.  It's not like you can't bulldoze a few thousand swamp housing units for land.

greatbeard's picture

>> Grow the shit in Florida.

Most of the viable farm land in Florida is already under cultivation.  It takes more than water to grow crops.  For the most part Florida is a sandy and inhospitable to vegetable and fruit crops. 

East Coast Diablo's picture

Raised garden beds, rain barrels, and chickens Bitchez!

greatbeard's picture

While I wholeheartedly agree, and plan on implementing that strategy (minus the chickens) in my next place, that will hardly replace what is going to be lost to drought in Cali.

zhandax's picture

Guess it depends on which part of the state.  Palm, Hibiscus, and Star Islands, across from the cruise port in Miami, were built in the 20's by driving piles in Biscayne Bay,filling with rip-rap, and topping off with Everglades black muck.  There isn't much you can't grow there.

Chuck Walla's picture

Thank God there's enough for the Palm Springs golf courses. Otherwise Obama would have to go somewhere else...


NidStyles's picture

They were the morons that thought it would be a good idea to try and grow things in the desert using dirt farming. 

LMAOLORI's picture




Or Hay to sell to China BBC opens in new window

California drought: Why farmers are 'exporting water' to China



During California's worst drought on record, some farmers are using precious water to grow hay that is then shipped to China

While historic winter storms have battered much of the US, California is suffering its worst drought on record. So why is America's most valuable farming state using billions of gallons of water to grow hay - specifically alfalfa - which is then shipped to China? 

pods's picture

Well tomatoes will be $5 each, but the delta smelt will be jamming.

Yep, makes sense.

Of course, farming a desert isn't really a smart thing either.

I wonder how many of these endangered animals are genomically identical to other non-threatened species?  Like the "Florida" panther.


nmewn's picture

"Of course, farming a desert isn't really a smart thing either."


1fortheroad's picture

Yea, well farming a fucking desert did work for some time.


Now it doesnr seem to work so well.

Rinse water can be used for wash water.


Just saying

nmewn's picture

You know its funny when you think about it...there is a very good chance we've all drank the same water that Caesar pissed out at some point.

Course, the Romans spent vast amounts of other peoples money & used slave labor building aqueducts too, so there's always that ;-)

sylviasays's picture

But there Feds say there is still water available for the delta smelt? WTF?

ZerOhead's picture

The fish have a PAC...

Need I say more?

TBT or not TBT's picture

Species on this planet come and go. The last ice age saw off a lot, and 10k years go is nothing.

A Nanny Moose's picture

He who smelt it Delta it. /snicker

IREN Colorado's picture

The central valley is incredibly productive if you retain and use the water that used to just flow on by. It used to produce an astonishing volume of crops that needed minimal water along with large irrigated fields. Now the Central Valley is a wasteland of illegal Mexican Nationals fighting for foodstamps and Obamacare while Federal tyrants in training harrass the land owners to make them stop producing food and tax revenue.

On the bright side there, they'll have a $100 Billion bullet train between Modesto and Fresno soon though, paid for by the rest of the Nation. Nobody will ever ride it but they still have that going for them!

Crash Overide's picture

Makes me wonder if this is a blessing in disguise due to all the particles coming over from Japan, poisoned food is not so yummy.

TimmyB's picture

Farming in the California desert was fine until global climate change killed it. But that's alright because there are trillions of dollars still to be made by the fossil fuel industry. Who gives a fuck if billions of people around the globe starve so long as a few oligarchs get richer? Certainly not the many here who have fallen for our fossil fuel industry's propaganda.

DeadFred's picture

Are you some kind of anti-ecology terrorist? Water vapor is EIGHT times worse than CO2 as a green house gas and you are proposing to put that much water onto parched farmland? Where do you think it will go? Those environment killing plants (probably GMO plants at that) will drink it up then transpire it into the atmosphere. Have you seen the graphs showing the correlation between humidity and heat retention? Think about what it feels like in a jungle at night. They don't get cold like a desert does., do they? What you are talking about will heat up the earth more than all the coal fired power plants in China. Less soot, it's true, but I'm talking about global warming here not some "clean air utopia". You should be ashamed for proposing such an idea. 

ZerOhead's picture

By God you're right!

It sounds to me like we need to place a tax on water vapor instead of CO2 then... and here I was thinking that the primary opposition to the CRACKpipe was from a CRACKpipe crack that could contaminate or kill all life in the ocean from the massive fresh water discharge... ;)

lincolnsteffens's picture

Don't be absurd. We need to place a tax on both until we eliminate the scourge of water and

carbon dioxide from the earth once and for all.  Now I fixed it for you.

ZerOhead's picture

That's not a very plant friendly policy but climate scientists insist it's worth a try.

But we should first double global climate model funds to $60 billion per year just to make sure...

Tim_'s picture

When It Rains, It Pours Tax Dollars In Maryland

"Maryland, for example, has had 40 new taxes signed into law by Gov. O’Malley since he took office in 2007. The most oppressive of those taxes is the one being levied on rain."

"This tax is an annual fee on impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, sidewalks, garages, and any other surface that could create drainage problems and water contamination situated on property owned by an individual or a business. However, the tax is not applied to every city or county in the state."

"And of course no tax hike would be complete without government agencies, such as the Department of Navy, that own land with impervious surfaces resisting and declining to pay the newly enacted law."

ZerOhead's picture

Good fucking god...

The lunatics are running the asylum and I own a couple hundred acres of granite outcroppings...

A Nanny Moose's picture

Granite makes for decent fortifications. Just sayin'

TimmyB's picture

Good fucking god...what moron believes that bullshit is true?

snr-moment's picture

Oh thank god.  I was afraid I'd have to stop clear cutting my Brazilian forest holdings.

IREN Colorado's picture

If you check you will find this is part of a normal weather cycle. We had a similar drought during the late 1940's through the early 1960's. The last 50 years or so have been very wet for California. That is when most of this agri business development sprang to life. Prior to the '40s the farms were smaller and managed local water much more effeciently (because they had too to get crops out of the environment). If this natural drought cycle continues you will probably see one of two possible scenarios:

Either, the big corporate farms break down into smaller more effecient farms growing crops that are better suited to arid environments.


Perhaps, allot of land will go fallow and allot of TBTF corporate Agri lobby farmers will get "disaster relief" from the US taxpayer via the magic digital money machines. In this scenario, GMO plants that need even less water will arrive on the scene. They'll be really cheap to produce but they'll make your kids sick as dogs.

We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out.

Crash Overide's picture

How is geo-engineering effecting global warming and do they account for weather modification in their climate models?

I believe that people do have an influence on weather but just not how they are selling it to everyone.

Renewable Life's picture

"Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink" (or grow shit)!!!

America is heading for a Shakespearen climax, just like during the housing crisis in CA when every gangsta, drop out, and schmuck on the street was a mortgage broker, NOW every lawyer, doctor, and wanna be stock broker/schmuck is a farmer, buying (with borrowed money) irrigated ground for $20,000-$30,000 an acre and planting almonds and other tree crops for another $10,000 an acre, and everyone is going to get rich!!!

The shit is unreal, and could before it's over, be 10x worse then the housing bubble!!

JoBob's picture

Renewable Life: The shit is unreal, and could before it's over, be 10x worse then the housing bubble!!


NO, it is 10x worse THAN the housing bubble. 


johansen's picture

so in all seriousness i started fiddiling with numbers here.


a half meter thick sidewall, 56 meter diameter pipe would require 105 million cubic meters of cement, the grand coulee dam used 9.1, to push that water 750 miles.

you would need somewhere between 100 and 200 psi to push the entire river down that pipe and that would consume 4-10GW of electricity.