The Los Angeles Times offers a reminder today of the effect that Southern California’s water supply outlook is having on avocado and citrus growers in San Diego County.

Agricultural water users have had their allotments trimmed 30 percent this year, a cut they’re required to make because they participate in a special pricing program with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District. In exchange for a discounted water rate, the growers agree to take the first cuts.

The Times says:

From Ventura to the Mexican border, farmers are rethinking their crop plans and curtailing spring plantings of pumpkins, potatoes and watermelons. Some citrus growers said they will have to remove trees to save water. Those using too much could be fined thousands of dollars and have locks installed on their water meters.

Most farms flanking Fallbrook’s winding roads are 10 acres or smaller. Many are owned by families whose finances are less stable than those of large corporate farms. Some probably will go under, farmers said. Maybe they bought overpriced land 10 years ago and already are struggling to meet their debt payments. …

Bob Polito, 57, who grows oranges in Valley Center, near Fallbrook, plans to take down as many as 1,500 trees, many with unripened fruit still on them. He has not started the work. …

Polito sells oranges, tangerines and lemons at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market and other area markets, where many shoppers haven’t heard of the 30% cutback.

That does not surprise him, since the water crunch is not being felt in the city, he said. “As long as they have enough water to put on their lawn and wash their dishes, they’re happy.”

ROB DAVIS

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