Now that the drought’s busted; greedy farmers try to grab back all the water

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A coalition of state and local leaders is pressing California to lift restrictions on urban water use after the wettest winter for years.

Water regulators in Sacramento on Wednesday will decide on a recommendation to extend the drought rules, uncertain if rain and snow will continue through spring.

Republican State Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber, who leads a swelling coalition of law makers and local water districts statewide, says it’s time for Gov. Jerry Brown to end the drought emergency, or lose the public’s trust.

These would be the greedy farmers we referenced in the headline above.

The state, however, is “not yet declaring an end to the drought,” California Natural Resources Agency spokeswoman Nancy Vogel said in an emailed statement. The governor’s office referred request for comment to Vogel.

Some residents in the San Joaquin Valley still survive on bottled water because their wells are depleted, and swings from wet to dry years is only intensifying with climate change, Vogel said.

Why are their wells depleated? Because greedy farmers sucked all the water out during the drought.

Tracy Quinn, a senior water policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, wants the state to hold onto its restrictions. She says it’s unclear what weather the spring will bring, let alone next year.

The healthy snowpack and brimming reservoirs also don’t tell the whole story, she said, adding that the drought decimated groundwater supplies and will take years to be replenished.

“This is a long game,” Quinn said. “Although we have had a welcomed respite from the drought, we don’t know whether this is an aberration in an extended drought.”

Read the whole story in the Orange County Register

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