esm223 20 Reading - SoCal ag w reduction via MWD - SF Chronicle - Mar2008

Esm223 20 Reading - SoCal ag w reduction via MWD - SF Chronicle - Mar2008

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SF Chronicle – 10Mar2008, page B-1 Deep in the green avocado groves, the winter quiet is shattered by the whine of chain saws. Workers wielding machetes slash leafy branches from the trees and spray-paint the tall stumps white to protect the bark from sunburn in the forced hibernation to come. Here, in the heart of the nation's avocado industry, growers are beheading their avocado trees. Less than two months after a mandatory 30 percent cutback in agricultural water deliveries, some Southern California growers have begun stumping hundreds of healthy, well-nurtured avocado trees, putting them out of production for the next one to three years to leave more water for the rest of their trees. Their actions represent the downside of a water deal between area farmers and the region's water wholesaler, the Metropolitan Water District. Over the years, thousands of farmers signed up for a program that gave them discounted water in return for their willingness to be first in line for a water cutback. This winter is payback time. For the first time since the program started in 1995, farmers must reciprocate for years of discounts. The district cut their water deliveries by 30 percent Jan. 1 because of the regional shortage caused by last year's record dry weather, an eight-year drought in the Colorado River Basin and a court order protecting the endangered smelt in the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta up north. Even though this season's rainfall to date is above normal, farmers say the wet weather is only postponing the inevitable. Come the dry months of summer, they still will have 30 percent less water to nurture their crops. From Ventura, about 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles, to the Mexican border, farmers are rethinking their crop plans and curtailing spring plantings of pumpkins, potatoes and watermelons. Some citrus growers said they will have to remove trees to save water.
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This note was uploaded on 08/06/2008 for the course ESM 235 taught by Professor Dunne during the Winter '08 term at UCSB.

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Esm223 20 Reading - SoCal ag w reduction via MWD - SF Chronicle - Mar2008

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