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Significant impact on local agriculture as the state reduces the allocation of imported water | News

The ongoing drought will have a new impact on Tehachapi and state-wide agriculture on Friday, and the Department of Water Resources announced that it will significantly reduce the already low water allocation from this year’s state water project.

SWP contractors, including the Tehachapi-Cummings County Aqueduct, will receive only 5% instead of 15% of the allocation in Table A, state officials have announced.

State-wide water observers were hoping for a previously announced renewal of the January 20 quota. Others thought it could return to the zero quota announced in early December before the promising storm brought snow and rain.

However, as the drought continued, the reduction was natural.

“Historically dry January and February are not expected to have a major storm in March, so we need to reduce our quotas to save on available water supply,” said DWR, 5%. In addition to the quota, he said he would provide important things that were not met. Health and safety needs of 29 water departments with contracts to receive SWP supply.

Impact on the community

In response to the DWR announcement, the chairman of the board of directors of the Tehachapi-Cummings County waters said on Friday that agriculture had the greatest impact on the region.

“Sorry for seeing the 5% quota, TCCWD has been planning such an event for many years. There are three healthy watersheds that provide our customers with reliable natives,” said Robert Schultz, Chairman of the Board. Safe yields from each basin and healthy levels of TCCWD storage ensure safe water flow to both residents and businesses. “

He said the district’s operational plan to allocate 5% of SWP (surface) water would meet 100% of the wet water supply needs of M & I (local government and industrial customers) in 2022.

However, Schultz said the district “uses agricultural demand as a restraint in water supply. Agricultural customers have reduced more than 50% of the needs demanded in Tehachapi, which is apparent throughout the region as the years go by. It will be. ” The land is planted in the summer months.

“Water cuts for agriculture are being seen throughout California, and ultimately these shortages will manifest themselves in higher food prices,” Schultz said. An era like this where drought has been going on for years. “

Tom Niceler, general manager of the water district, warned months this year that the district should not expect much imported water.

Following the recent DWR announcement, “The state’s water supply is well below the amount customers need. The state reduced its quota to 5% in 2022, which TCCWD receives. This means that we can expect lower quantities. Water supply above 1,000 acre feet. This small amount follows last year’s 5% quota and 2020’s 20% quota. TCCWD over the last three years. The goal is to import 30,000 acre-foot of water. The state has allocated a total of 5,790 acre-foot over the last three years. “

Like Schultz, Niceler said the district worked to meet the demands as much as possible.

“Despite a significant shortage of supply, TCCWD has provided 100% of residential and commercial customer demand each year throughout the district. Watering Tehachapi City, Golden Hills, Bear Valley and Stallion Springs. You are — and others.

“As in the last few years, our agricultural customers will bear the brunt of these reductions in the water supply they provide,” he said. 15% or more. By 2022, it will be forced to reduce agricultural customer supply by more than 30%. “

Grimway operation

Grimmway Farms and related Cal-Organic Farms are the largest agricultural producers in the Tehachapi region, with much of the agriculture taking place in Cummings Valley.

Grimway is expected because this is the first year of pumping restrictions associated with the amended and readjusted rulings of the Cummings basin (a long-standing legal effort to adjust the natural safe yield of the basin). In addition to losses, we are facing reduced availability of groundwater. Imported surface water.

According to Matt Vickery, director of land and water resources at Grimmway, the company has been farming in Cummings Valley since 2001.

Just two days before the DWR announced the latest water outage, on Wednesday, March 16, the local water district board met to consider the best way to meet the demand for imported water beyond supply. rice field.

“This is a very important decision (for the board),” Vickery said. “And I know it has a lot of thoughts in it.”

“Agriculture is a big part of this community. It’s essentially a countryside, and I think it’s part of the attraction of people who want to live here. Grimway has been part of this community for over 20 years. And this is unprecedented due to the reductions we are facing this year. It has never been so reduced. “

The plan proposed to the Board by Nisler could provide some surface water for agriculture by drawing water from the water reserves of the area already in the Cummings Basin. .. But how that water use is prioritized awaits board action scheduled for March 30.

That’s bad news for Grimway.

“We are too late to make this decision,” he told the board. “We have already ordered seeds.” Higher altitude Cummings Valley agricultural seeds are professional. Similarly, to get fertilizer and other necessary supplies.

“In some cases, the transplants are already in the greenhouse. You need to plan well in advance, and if you can’t decide on an operational plan as early as April or May, that’s not enough. I Work for us in our business. “

He wanted the board to find a way to make early decisions, and acknowledged the pressure the board is receiving from M & I customers, including the city and Golden Hills CSD.

“Some M & I users know that recharging takes precedence over quotas,” he said. They are also well aware with me that they may get water (this year) for charging-this is voluntary. “

The district has been pressured by the city of Tehachapi and the Golden Hills Community Services District to work more closely on the plan to engage the district’s M & I customers more, and Vickery has made a similar plea.

“We have co-existed for a long time and will continue to do so. This board is a great opportunity to connect us. Every year, we do not divide the community, but some policies that work in the long run. Let’s set up. “

What’s next?

The Water District Commission has set up two special meetings to finalize the 2022 plan and priorities. The first meeting will begin in a workshop format on March 28th at 11:00 am. The second special meeting will begin at 3:00 pm on March 30th. We plan to prioritize available imported water. Both meetings will be held at District Headquarters, 22901 Banducci Road.

Both Neisler and Schultz are calling on water users in the district to conserve.

“In July 2021, Governor Newsom demanded a voluntary reduction in water usage by 15% of home customers across the state. The actual reduction by January 2022 was a cumulative 6.5%, 2022. In January alone, residential water usage across the state increased by 2.6%.

“We encourage local public water department partners to work with customers to strengthen conservation. The state also wants to strengthen conservation requirements. There are plans for 2022, but a record-breaking If the drought continues, future supplies will be under further pressure. “

Schultz also urged conservation — and said it was important to recognize the limits of the availability of imported water.

“Water is the lifeline of all residents and landowners, and as the Tehachapi region continues to expand, great care must be taken to maintain a rational, responsible and sustainable mindset for the future.” He said. SWPs are supplied as a reliable source of water for the year and should be planned accordingly. That’s why TCCWD is very beneficial to this community.

“As President of TCCWD, I hope to safely withdraw from the bank’s SWP supply in these years and provide stability to the local economy,” he continued.

“In a year of moderate moisture, we meet all water requirements and use a combination of ag return flow and water banking to replenish the basin,” Schultz said. The fact that it is the third year of drought. Our water storage has fallen to a 10-year average, allowing M & I customers to maintain their water storage without using any water. “

He said he believes that Tehachapi water is very well managed by the district’s board of directors and staff.

“Tehachapi is much better than most communities, but we strongly urge all residents of the entire Tehachapi region to be very careful about water use for the rest of the year,” he says. I did. As residents of Tehachapi, we are truly fortunate to have good water management through TCCWD, which dates back more than 50 years. “

Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be contacted by her email: claudia@claudiaelliott.net.

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