FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Central Valley saw rain over the weekend and the Sierras got some snow, but 2022 will still be California’s third straight year of drought.
“We really are in bad straits right now if things don’t turn around quickly,” said CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau Ryan Jacobsen.
As 2022 comes to an end, Jacobsen says 2023 needs to be an above-average year for water allocation for the Central Valley in order for the area to return to any sort of normalcy.
“The fourth year of drought is kind of a cumulative effect. You see more and more acreage go out of production and it really does devastate small communities,” he said.
Among the devastation, farmworkers are losing their jobs in droves. Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms says he has half as many farmworkers in 2022 than he had in 2021.
“These farmworkers have nowhere to turn to and sometimes they have to uproot their families and move somewhere else to look for work,” he said.
Earlier this month, the California Department of Water Resources announced an initial five percent allocation of imported water from the state water project. Del Bosque says that percentage won’t be enough, and the state needs to invest in infrastructure for water storage.
“Some of these storms come quickly and intensely and dump a lot of water. We need to be nimble at capturing and saving as much of that water as we can,” he said.
Jacobsen says farmers have to look ahead to February to see what percentage of federal water allocation the valley will receive, but they’re already planning for next year with another drought in mind.
“Even if we were to have a fairly good year, it’s very difficult to suddenly turn that around because they’ve had to make either plants, seeds or other types of purchases to get ready for the spring. Unfortunately, they just had to make the assumption that they’re going to be dry,” he said.