SAWR-Water Rates-Crops-Agriculture

San Diego County Crops Supported by Water Rate Discount

Alongside other cornerstone industries such as tourism and biotechnology, agriculture sustains the San Diego County’s economy with a farmgate value of nearly $2 billion a year, according to the most recent county assessment. Avocados – one of the county’s signature farm goods — account for $140 million of the farming total growth of 16% in 2019, county figures show.

And all the crops countywide are supported by reliable water supplied by the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies, which have invested strategically over the past three decades to ensure water availability even during dry years. The Water Authority has also created a special ag water program that offers lower-cost water in return for lower reliability so that farmers can choose the level of service that works best for them.

“San Diego’s dynamic agricultural industry strengthens our region by employing thousands of people, contributing to the local economy, supporting the local food system and enhancing sustainability efforts,” said San Diego County Agricultural Commissioner Ha Dang. “All efforts to support our diverse agricultural economy are important, including water reliability and accessibility.”

San Diego County ag production is the combined result of more than 5,000 family farms – the most of any county in the United States. In fact, 69% of all San Diego County farms are smaller than nine acres. Innovative practices – including water-use efficiency measures – allow local farms to be productive by focusing on high-value crops such as ornamental trees and shrubs, bedding plants, cacti and succulents and indoor plants.

Agriculture directly employs 56,000 people in San Diego County, including the second-largest number of farms operated by women and the largest number of part-time farmers in the U.S. Along with avocados, San Diego County farmers rank first in the nation in production of nursery crops, and among the top five producers nationwide of lemons, limes, guavas, pomegranates, and macadamias.

Water Authority offers ag discount

In partnership with its member agencies, the Water Authority offers a Permanent Special Agricultural Water Rate Program to continue supporting commercial farms that are the economic engine of rural San Diego County.

In exchange for lower price water, participants in the ag water program agree to have lesser water service when the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California cuts supplies to San Diego County. It is similar to power companies offering lower rates to customers who agree to have their power service interrupted during peak demand periods. In turn, the Water Authority can reallocate those supplies as needed to commercial and residential customers who pay higher rates for full reliability benefits.

An important deadline for the ag water program is coming at the end of June, and farmers who want to take advantage of lower rates should contact their retail water agency for details.

Drought Conditions Worsen in California After Prolonged Warm, Dry Weather

Ventura County has moved into severe drought conditions as it wraps up what is typically the rainiest months of the year.

Opinion: The 2021 Drought is Already an Emergency

The 2021 drought is quickly becoming an emergency. Kern County’s supply from the State Water Project has been reduced to just 5 percent of a full allocation. Rainfall is about half of average. And with each passing dry day, the drought gets worse.

California’s Wet Season Nears an End with Big Concerns About Drought

A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area, water users are already being asked to cut back.

Gov. Newsom’s Draft Budget Funds Sustainable Ag

Gov. Gavin Newsom has released his proposed state budget, which includes provisions for sustainable agriculture programs in California.

The proposed budget directs money to the state’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs, including the Healthy Soils Program and SWEEP, the State Water Efficiency Program.

Coming Back Into Balance | Examining Agriculture’s Role in Combating Climate Change

Tension is growing between politicians claiming to be “climate leaders”; those who say that enacted policies are too little, too late; and industry sectors lobbying to maintain the status quo. Environmental activists are pushing hard against the fossil fuel industry and commercial agriculture — two sectors that helped build Ventura County but are now being put under the spotlight for activities that contribute to global warming.

Governor Newsom’s Executive Order Aims to Conserve Land, Biodiversity, California Farm Bureau Federation Reports

A new California Biodiversity Collaborative will help determine how to carry out an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom aimed at conserving 30% of California’s land and marine areas by 2030—and agricultural organizations said they would participate to assure the collaborative recognizes stewardship efforts carried out on the state’s farms and ranches.

Trump Makes Water Demand of Farms Priority for New Office

President Donald Trump on Tuesday created what he called a “subcabinet” for federal water issues, with a mandate that includes water-use changes sought by corporate farm interests and oil and gas. An executive order from Trump put Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler in charge of the interagency water body.

California Sues Trump Administration Again — This Time Over Water

A day after President Trump visited the Central Valley to celebrate a boost in water for California farms, state officials sued to block the additional water deliveries.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a lawsuit filed Thursday, maintains that new federal rules designed to increase pumping from the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta fail to protect salmon and other endangered fish in the delta estuary.

‘They’re Going to Dry Up’: Debate Erupts Over Plan to Move Water From Farmland to Suburbs

A private company and the town of Queen Creek are proposing a water deal that would leave 485 acres of farmland permanently dry near the Colorado River and send the water used on that land to the fast-growing Phoenix suburb.

The company GSC Farm LLC is seeking to sell its annual entitlement of 2,083 acre-feet of Colorado River water — about 678 million gallons — to Queen Creek for a one-time payment of $21 million. The town and the company asked regulators at the Arizona Department of Water Resources to endorse the water transfer, and the agency is holding a series of four meetings this week to hear comments on the proposal.