California Farmers Make Historic Water Concession

Some with rights going back a century agree to 25% cuts amid drought
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2015 4:49 PM CDT
California Farmers Make Historic Water Concession
Gino Celli draws a water sample to check the salinity in an irrigation canal that runs through his fields near Stockton, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

Another sign of the severity of California's drought: Farmers who hold some of the oldest and thus strongest water rights in the state have agreed to voluntarily cut their water use by 25% this season. The move by the farmers in the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers is "unprecedented," reports the Los Angeles Times. It affects those with "riparian rights," explains the paper, meaning farmers whose land has direct access to a stream. Some of those rights go back 100 years.

The state accepted the offer today, which the farmers made because they feared the government would impose even stricter reductions. The agreement heads off what likely would have been a long, costly legal fight, reports the Sacramento Bee. Consumers everywhere can expect to feel at least some impact of the drought in food prices, and the New York Times provides a graphic on how much water is used to make a typical week's serving of crops from avocados (4.1 gallons) to bread (6.4 gallons) to mandarins (42.5 gallons). Meanwhile, drought-shaming is now a thing. (More drought stories.)

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