California lawmakers, ag push for water bond - The Packer

California lawmakers, ag push for water bond

07/30/2014 11:25:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has told all parties they have until Aug. 11 to obtain legislative approval to replace the higher-priced measure with a more modest plan and still get it on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Even if they do, Merkley said they’ll be under the gun to raise campaign funds and to educate the voting public about the complex bond measure before the election.

Ripple effect

Jim Patterson, Shawn StevensonVicky BoydCitrus grower Shawn Stevenson (right) explains his water situation to Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.Removal of the citrus groves at Harlan Ranch, which Stevenson co-owns with other family members, will be felt at Orange Cove-Sanger Citrus Association’s packinghouse in Orange Cove, said general manager Kevin Severns. Harlan Ranch accounted for 15%-20% of the facility’s volume.

“It’s not a good thing for us by any means,” Severns said. “We’re a grower-owned cooperative, and we’ve been part of their landscape and Harlan Ranch has been part of us.”

Stevenson also sits on the association’s board and serves as vice president.

How big an impact tree removal will have is unknown and will partly depend on how groundwater supplies fare in late summer, he said.

Stevenson isn’t the only citrus grower having to deal with no surface water deliveries and only limited groundwater.

Just south of him sits the Orange Cove Irrigation District, which serves about 28,000 acre of mostly citrus and also received a zero water allocation from the Friant Unit, said Fergus Morrissey, general manager.

Some growers have wells and have turned to groundwater to keep their trees alive.

“So some are going to be OK in general, unless everybody starts pulling on the groundwater,” he said. “There’s a range of what people’s surface water needs are, but we’re experiencing pretty good draw-down of the aquifer and are starting to see issues.”

But others don’t have access to groundwater, having never developed wells.

“It’s really a minority who don’t have groundwater and who are really struggling,” Morrissey said. “It’s not a negligible percentage — probably 15% — who are in a serious situation.”

Note on correction: Deputy of State Debra Bowen was originally misidentified.

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