The Sierra Foothills are in full array with rolling green hills and glorious yellow mustard flowers. Countless acres of newly planted orchards spoil the experience. Fearing a moratorium on new wells, there is a fevered rush to get new wells dug and thousands of acres planted. Areas have been bulldozed to create new orchards along Stearns Road, along Highway 108 and east to Knights Ferry. This sampling is what your board of supervisors is allowing: new orchards as far as the eye can see.
Our county, water districts, and the water advisory board are irresponsible. There is no extra water to sell! A well moratorium is six months late. Conflict-of-interest rules would dictate that farmers recuse themselves from any votes on matters of water and farming.
The snowpack normally provides more than half the state’s water, but it is smaller than last February, putting more pressure on groundwater. The Bee reports “tightening water supplies will reinforce (the) shift to high-value crops.” It takes a gallon of water to produce one almond. Tightening water supplies should reinforce low-water crops. The mad rush for planting orchards along with digging new high-capacity wells must be stopped. Bring on the state, the feds, or whoever truly cares about the valley’s communities.
Barbara Swier, Hughson