To combat a worsening situation of drought in California, farmers in the area have to face some restrictions in the free use of water for irrigation. State officials announced the first ever water cutbacks imposed on farmers since 1977 on Friday. Farmers have a right over water for the purpose of irrigation since 1903, but the rights would have to be curtailed now in the wake of the drought condition before the state.
The cuts being imposed may be only the tip of the iceberg even as more restrictions are being planned. This is because the demand for water is constantly outstripping the supply the state has from the rivers.
The crisis is a result of the snowcaps over the Sierra Nevada mountain range ebbing down. These snowcaps are the main source of water for the state through the summer months.
Farmers in the state have been preparing for the situation for a long time by drilling wells in search of groundwater. The practical implications of the current crisis are not known at this point of time. As of now, farmers are prohibited from using surface water for the purpose of irrigating their crops.
Such curtailment of rights to water has been done only on one prior occasion. But as the drought situation in California deepens in the fourth consecutive year, more water restrictions may be on the anvil.
The curtailments announced on Friday are applicable to about a hundred farmers with water rights in Sacramento and San Joaquin. The major part of the cutbacks is to be experienced by the farming community. Certain small cities and municipal councils may also be affected. Several state agencies responsible for water supply to farmers may also have to bear the brunt.