The North State Water Alliance (NSWA) brought together leaders in late March from the public and private sectors, including business, government and water experts, to talk about an action plan for the region that will accomplish a comprehensive solution that meets water reliability an environmental sustainability goals in the North State and throughout California.
Despite recent rainfall in March, there will be significant surface water cutbacks in the Sacramento Valley during the third consecutive year of drought. Reduced water use by farms and wildlife refuges will directly impact wildlife habitat, rural communities and our economy.
In water short years, increased attention is paid to how much water is used in the state, where it is used, and for what purposes. Many different numbers are used to describe water use in the state among generalized water users (environmental, agricultural and urban). Often, water use is only described in terms of agricultural and urban uses, ignoring the important dedication of water to environmental uses.
The full extent of the drought’s impact on the number of acres of rice planted this year is unknowable at this time. There are simply too many factors left to play out before our last fields are planted for anyone to know the final outcome.
The things that rice farmers are looking at include: how much surface water is available; can I pump groundwater; are prices going to be enough to offset increased pumping costs? Finally, will it rain more between now and the middle of May? (We certainly hope so!)
By early June, the crop will be planted and we will know the answer to the rice supply question. Until then each day will bring new information – both good and not as good, that will help California rice farmers and the communities they live in absorb the realities that the Sacramento Valley will be facing.