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Delta Watch

Farmers, farmworkers, communities and fish hang in the balance

California’s ongoing drought, now stretching into a fourth punishing year, is having a huge impact on the state and has become the number one issue facing policymakers according to statewide voters. A recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) statewide poll shows that 39% of all Californians identify water as the number one issue facing the state.

As California endures the fourth consecutive year of extreme drought, the state has taken a firm stance on water use. As state regulators seek a 25% mandatory reduction statewide in urban water usage, cities have been asked to reduce by as much as 36 percent. Farmers and farmworkers have also taken the brunt of the burden with two consecutive years of more than 80 percent reductions in surface water, forcing the fallowing of more than 600,000 acres of productive farmland and the loss of more than 20,000 jobs.

Something’s got to give. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been in decline for years and while everyone agrees something must be done, reaching agreement on what to do has been impossible, leading to years, even decades, of inaction.