Bleak News on California Water

Standing in a grassy mountain field normally covered in snow this time of year, California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday announced mandatory state-wide water restrictions, ordering California’s water agencies to institute a 25% cutback. The state is the midst of a mega-drought, and the lack of snow in the Sierra Nevada poses huge potential issues for wildlife and waterfowl.

One area of concern for DU is with rice farmers, who will likely plant less rice this upcoming season, according to Politico. Less rice means less flooded fields, equating less habitat and food for ducks next winter.

DROUGHT TO TAKE GREATER TOLL ON CALIFORNIA RICE: California rice farmers are expected to plant less rice again this year as the Golden State continues down its fourth straight year of drought. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service predicted Tuesday that California farmers would plant just 408,000 acres of rice this year, a 6 percent drop from last year’s low level of 434,000 acres. Planting in 2014 plunged by nearly a quarter, down from 567,000 acres in 2013.

California Rice Commission spokesman Jim Morris said he believes NASS’s prediction is premature, and a better picture will emerge after farmers know how much water they will receive in federal and state allocations. USDA isn’t expecting much water to be available for farmers, who rely heavily on melting snowpack in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. The snowpack levels there are at record-low levels, according to USDA data collected in the mountains. See the full NRDC write up of its expectations here: