San Diego Farmers Want Same Treatment as Farmers in Central Valley

San Diego farmers are calling a foul on Governor Jerry Brown’s new and unprecedented 25% mandatory water regulations, accusing the governor of favoring Central Valley farmers with exemptions and pressing for similar allowances for other California farming regions, including those in San Diego County.

“The basic premise of the Proposed Framework seems to be: Reward those who already conserved, and Punish those who you perceive have not. If that is the case, we will anxiously await our reward,” wrote northeast San Diego County’s Valley Center Municipal Water District (VCMWD) General Manager Gary Arant in a Friday letter to Felicia Marcus, Chair of California’s State Water Resources Control Board (WRCB). (Original emphasis.)

Much attention has been focused on Brown’s claim that his $1 billion emergency water executive order will not put added pressure on farmers. However, Arant suggestively notes to Marcus, “surely he was not leaving out the $1.85 billion farm-gate value agricultural economy of San Diego County, 11th largest in California.”

Arant’s letter calls out restrictions on his region that would, in his words, “impose a 35% mandatory reduction in potable urban water use by the Valley Center Municipal Water District.” The VCMWD’s water overwhelmingly serves farms, with 79% of usage devoted to agricultural purposes, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Arant calls his region “one of the largest commercial avocado, nursery, flower, citrus, and now wine grape growing areas in California.” The letter points out, “Valley Center’s 1,200 growers are a significant contributor to San Diego County’s farm economy.”

In addition, Arant points to the district’s long history of increasing water conservation, and recommends that the state consider this high level of voluntary conservation before imposing the new, additional restrictions.

California’s state board is slated to review the proposed water reduction mandate May 5 and 6, notes the Times.

San Diego County Water Authority (SCDWA) Chairman Mark Weston has also reportedly protested the reductions, citing the area’s long history of progress cutting water usage. According to the Times, the SDCWA serves 24 local districts and 3.1 million people.

SDCWA restrictions have included “watering only at certain dates and times, fixing leaks within 72 hours and eliminating runoff from irrigation systems,” Pomerado News reported.

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