Water supply cuts totaling 727,863 acre-feet, or 237 billion gallons, could significantly reduce California's fresh produce production as well as the water supply for 25 million Californians. Water that was originally destined for farms, homes and businesses instead went to the ocean because of federal regulations designed to protect salmon and Delta smelt under the Endangered Species Act.
A fact sheet released by the California Farm Water Coalition quantified the losses to California's water supply, potential food production, jobs and the economy. The loss of 727,863 acre-feet of water during the past two months is sufficient to provide the annual food supply for 726,000 people. Additionally, this water represents:
• 12,863 farm jobs
• $873 million in crop production
• 260,000 acres of irrigated cropland, an area 8x the size of San Francisco
"The federal regulations went into effect on Dec. 7 and redirected water that would have been used by farmers this year to produce fresh fruit, vegetable and nut crops, dairy products and premium California cotton," said Mike Wade, Coalition Executive Director. "Instead, California faces $2.2 billion in lost economic activity that could have been generated from farming operations.
"This redirection of water could last through March with water losses escalating every day," added Wade. "Sadly, these regulations aren't working to protect the fish they were intended to help. It's time we take a sensible look at how we provide for the ecosystem while at the same time support California's farms, jobs and people - and our nation's food supply."
The fact sheet is available at farmwater.org/watersupplycutshurtusall.pdf.