Local News

North county farmers see dire drought conditions

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The lack of rain is prompting calls for conservation measures in some North Bay counties and the long dry spell is causing serious problems for farmers.

Mendocino County declared the first state of emergency due to the drought. They have 90 days of water there. In Sonoma and Marin counties they have a little bit more, but it is not easy on people who are ranchers or farmers.

When the month is January and the ground looks dryer than it would in June, that is a problem, especially for a dairy farmer like Don DeBernardi of southern Sonoma County.

"Look here. Look, what have you got? Dry dirt haven't we? Nothing& and we reseeded these feilds," said DeBernardi.

He has 500 cows. He loves making cheese, but all could be in jeopardy if we don't see rain, and soon. A diminished pond, all the water don has left.

"I don't think I've got very much, maybe a week," said DeBernardi.

They're symptoms of the driest year in more than a century of record keeping in Marin and Sonoma counties. On Wednesday, nine North County water agencies began a new campaign urging people to conserve.

"And the message is, 'The drought is on. Turn your water off,'" said Brad Sherwood from the Sonoma County Water Agency.

Some Marin County residents already have.

"You can shorten your showers. You can not wash your car. You can not leave water running when you brush your teeth," said Susan Spencer, a Marin County resident.

But when a guy raises dairy cows, and they consume 35-40 gallons of water a day, small sacrifices make little difference.

"I think if it rains, it isn't going to do enough good. We're too late in the year," said DeBernardi.

So says the man who laments the cow pies are taller than the precious grass on which those animals feed.

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Tags:
water, drought, sonoma county, marin county, northern california, local news, wayne freedman
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