Ag experts say lack of water storage keeping Valley in drought

Gov. Brown lifted emergency drought declaration off most of California, Friday

FRESNO, Calif. - As rain continues to replenish the Valley, four counties remain under drought emergency. On Friday, Governor Brown declared most of California drought free. All but Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. Nisei Farmers League President Manuel Cunha says local farmers have conserved enough water.

"The governor does not want to lift his control over our ground water and that's what it's about," said Cunha.

Ag experts say lack of ground water is keeping the Valley dry.

"But this really is a man-made drought. This was an issue in which some of the environmental restrictions really put a damper on our ability to utilize surface supplies and therefore there's been an over reliance on ground water that obviously we need to deal with now," said Ryan Jacobsen, Executive Director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

Cunha says there's a crucial need for more water storage. He says the proposed Temperance Flat Reservoir Project is ideal. The project would create two and a half times the size of the current storage capacity of Millerton Lake.

"if you don't have the storage, and the only thing our cities and farmers and communities can do is to pump from the ground," said Cunha.

"We're not being able to store adequate amounts and most importantly we're not going to be able to prepare for the next drought the way that we should be," said Jacobsen.

Although the governor's order makes sure communities with low water supply get help from the state, Cunha says the current restrictions hurt Valley farmers.

"it's sad what he's doing to our rural communities to not even lift that. It just doesn't make any sense," said Cunha.

The City of Fresno says the current water conservatoin rules stay the same as the drought label continues.

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