California is experiencing one of its driest periods in recorded history, and now local farmers are being told not to expect any water from the state. Federal officials from the Bureau of Reclamation released a new report last Friday that shows California’s snowpack is currently sitting at 29 percent of the average for this time of year. As a result, state and federal officials are not expected to release water reserves for farmers.

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The affected farmers rely on water from a federally controlled system of rivers, canals, and reservoirs called the Central Valley Project. California officials who run the State Water Project, the state’s other major water system, have already announced they not be releasing any water for farmers for the first in the system’s 54-year history.

This is not the first time farmers on the West Coast have been shortchanged by nature and the federally controlled water system. Last year fields in California only received a measly 20 percent of their normal water allotment. Meanwhile, in 2009 a severely dry season reduced the farmers’ water allowance to an even lower 10 percent.

Individual farmers are looking at a big hit as they will be forced to leave fields unplanted while they scrounge for water from wells or pay high market prices to irrigate their land. On the larger scale, entire areas will be hampered by the drought, including Fresno County, which operates a $6.6 billion agriculture production industry. Beyond farms, wildlife refuges will only receive 40 percent of their contracted water supply to keep ponds afloat for endangered fish.

Via NY Times

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