OPINION: Farmers Are Not To Blame For Valley Subsidence, But They Can Help Solve It With Water

Why do farmers pump the water under their land (which California law clearly states belongs to them) in the first place? Unfortunately, you’ll rarely read the answer to this question in the press, but it is the most important part of the story.

Farmers pump groundwater because for more than 25 years, an innumerable myriad of Endangered Species Act-related laws, mandates, opinions, rulings and settlements have resulted in less and less surface water allocations for agriculture — even though all of these directives have failed to produce a rebound of endangered fish. When food producers receive the 0% and 5% water allocations like we saw in 2014, 2015, and 2016, they have no choice but to exercise their lawful property rights and to use water under their land.