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Feds Say "No Water This Summer" For Central Valley Farmers

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Credit www.usbr.gov
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Central Valley Farmers received the news today that they had been fearing for months. Due to the drought Central Valley Project contractors will receive an unprecedented “zero allocation.”

Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau says the allocation will force farmers to fallow huge portions of land across Central California.

“We have historically always focused on this issue being a western side type of issue of the San Joaquin Valley, but this brings everybody into it,” Jacobsen says. “Just on the Friant side of things we’re talking Fresno, Tulare and Kern Counties all being affected.”

The zero allocation will impact farmers and those they employ. Robert Silva, the mayor of the rural west side town of Mendota, says his community is bracing for the worst.

He remembers the drought of 2009.

"When it comes down to zero allocation it really impacts rural communities like Mendota." - Robert Silva

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Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio
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Valley Public Radio
Robert Silva is the Mayor of Mendota, Calif.

“The worst thing is that we know what the impacts going to be, because we witnessed it and we went through it,” Silva says. “We’re getting prepared for something real tragic, because when it comes down to zero allocation it really impacts rural communities like Mendota.”

While the drought is affecting communities up and down the state, Maria Gutierrez with Agua Asuntos De Todos or Water For Everyone says the allocation will affect Latinos the worst.

“The farmworkers are mostly Latinos and look if you have no water, you have no jobs you have no future,” Gutierrez says. “How do you feed your kids? How do you work in your community? It has a total horrible impact.”

Over 300 square miles of farmland on the Westside of Fresno County is expected go fallow in 2014 alone and as conditions get worse the east side of the Valley may become just as dry.

Ezra David Romero is an award-winning radio reporter and producer. His stories have run on Morning Edition, Morning Edition Saturday, Morning Edition Sunday, All Things Considered, Here & Now, The Salt, Latino USA, KQED, KALW, Harvest Public Radio, etc.
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