‘It’s a disaster.’ Drought dramatically shrinking California farmland, costing $1.7 billion in losses, according to new study
Eureka, California. In the state’s “greatest drought since the Great Depression,” the farmers of the Central Valley have been driven from their land.
The once fertile lands of the northern California region have been reduced to desert — even in the summer, even after the rains have fallen. In addition, a third of all the state’s crops were destroyed in the most devastating drought California has seen in 50 years.
As a result, the State Water Resources Control Board earlier this month approved a request for $13 million to help farmers whose crops were damaged or lost because of the record-breaking drought, said John Doolan, an agency spokesman. The funding will go toward projects to replenish the water that was stolen from fields due to the lack of rain in parts of the state.
Doolan said that the board hopes to have complete funding by September 30, after a public comment period that opened Friday.
“Our goal is to go out and try to assist as many farmers as we possibly could,” Doolan said.
The agency hopes to fund a $5 million grant program for communities who need additional water if their sources dry up. In the request for $13 million, the water board identified $8 million to go toward the farmers, while the rest will be allocated to local water agencies.
“When we have a statewide drought like this, it really hits a community hard,” Doolan said.
While the drought has caused the state’s farmers to run out of water, it has left other residents, including low-income residents of Los Angeles, with even more reason to worry. The county’s water systems remain on the brink of collapse, after more than 20 years of mis