AG Watch

Why Some Valley Farmers Are Still Struggling

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The storms caused some short-term damage and they're leaving farmers with long-term concerns.

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A canal coming from west Fresno County started to fill up after a night of storms, but it'll take a whole lot of strong storms make up for three years of drought and near-drought.

Downed trees and powerless stoplights are the obvious signs that a storm struck the Central Valley Wednesday.

Highway traffic slowed to a crawl while foot traffic sped up under umbrellas, but the long-term effects of the storms are not as obvious.

The Kings River looks low, even after the storm, but there's plenty of snow up in the mountains that feed the area.

A good snow pack means farmers on the east side should have a good supply, although they still have some catching up to do underground.

"We would need a number of storms of much greater intensity than the one we just had in order to do some serious groundwater recharge," said Randy McFarland, a spokesman for the Kings River Water Association.

Millerton Lake also looks a little dry, but the Department of Water Resources says the snow pack will fill it up this spring.

The lake is usually a good indicator of water levels in the Valley, and it's at about 50% of capacity right now. That's about normal.

But the storms are little consolation for farmers in western Fresno County.

Even as their water source -- Lake Shasta -- fills up, they're still preparing for a dry season.

And with the state's drought apparently coming to an end, they're concerned that politicians will lose their focus on the long-term.

"Just because we've had a few storms where it got a little damp, that's great," said McFarland. "But it isn't going to solve the state's water needs from now well into the future."

A representative for the Westlands Water District said they're anticipating a zero water allocation announcement on Friday, which means growers will have some tough decisions to make in the coming months.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
fresno county, agriculture, california water, ag watch, corin hoggard
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