Regarding Monday Q&A: Falling groundwater levels pose problems for region (Oct. 14, Page A1): One element of the equation that was left out of this article is the changing priority in California over environmental water. More than 3 million acre-feet of water that once served farms, homes and businesses has been re-prioritized each year for environmental purposes. Unfortunately, unlike urban and agricultural public water agencies, environmental uses are not required to meet any sort of efficiency standards.
Taxpayers should be concerned that public funds and water resources used for environmental restoration activities may not return the value to the state that they expect. Absent efficiency standards, even the most rudimentary ones, a tremendous amount of water and money can be wasted with no accountability.
As the State Water Resources Control Board considers new flow standards on the Tuolumne River, farmers in the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts and others stand to lose almost one-third of the surface water that they depend on to irrigate their crops. Any benefits that water will have for the environment are undetermined. Environmental water use efficiency standards are long overdue.
California Farm Water Coalition