From News Line, a daily compilation of farm water news distributed to CFWC members and others upon request. To receive News Line, click here.
Coalition response…Many agricultural water suppliers already employ tiered pricing, which increases the cost of water for amounts used above a base amount at a base price. Kern County farmers do not receive any subsidies for water they receive from the State Water Project which is used to irrigate over half-a-million acres of productive farmland. Kern County’s fresh fruits, nuts, vegetables and dairy products can be found around the corner and around the world. Kern County farmers that receive their water from the State Water Project pay the full cost for water every year and in years when they receive less than their contracted amount, they still pay as if they receive 100 percent. This year their supply was cut by 65 percent but they are still paying as if they received their full amount, which more than doubles the unit cost of water. This kind of unreliability has driven farmers to more efficient irrigation systems to make the most of what they receive.
Farmers have been increasing water use efficiency for decades. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley invested more than $1.6 billion in high efficiency irrigation systems on almost 1.2 million acres. Other efficiency practices include soil moisture monitoring, high efficiency pumps, micro irrigation and GPS. As a result, crop production has almost doubled in the last 40 years while applied water has remained flat.