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Almonds, oranges and grapes could be lost to California drought
Farmers and other water users often turn to pumping from underground aquifers without deliveries of surface water. The state has no role in regulating such pumping.
"A zero allocation is catastrophic and woefully inadequate for Kern County residents, farms and businesses," Ted Page, president the Kern County Water Agency's board, said in a statement.
"While many areas of the county will continue to rely on ground water to make up at least part of the difference, some areas have exhausted their supply," he added.
California's $61 billion wine industry is especially vulnerable. While the conditions will not be too damaging on the 2014 crop, it could damage the buds appearing for 2015, as it takes two years for a vine to bear fruit. A drought this year could devastate crops for the following harvest.
"What we really haven't seen that could happen is, if it's dry enough, grapevines actually become damaged and start to die, so you don't get the buds you need for the 2015 season," viticulture professor Mark Matthews says. "That potentially could become devastating, and it's not like when you're growing corn or something when you can just plant again next year. It's a 30-year commitment."
Last week's announcement that the access to the reservoir has been cut off marks the first time officials have had to curtail the supply in the 54-year-history of the State Water Project.
"This is the most serious drought we've faced in modern times," Felicia Marcus, of the State Water Resources Control Board, said. "We need to conserve what little we have to use later in the year, or even in future years."
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