SOLANO COUNTY (CBS13) – Farmers are facing a water shortage right as we head into peak growing season. It’s hitting their bottom line — and potentially yours.
Solano County farmer Spencer Bei shows us one of the wells his family uses to farm 15,000 acres. He says he is losing pressure now as he is pumping because he is pulling more from the aquifer due to a lack of surface water and no rain in sight.READ MORE: Caltrans May Change Speed Limits On Highway 99 To Limit Congestion
He is one of many farmers feeling the heat after the State Water Resources Board sent out letters to 4,300 water-right holders saying there was no longer enough water for them and that the remaining 2,300 with pre-1914 riparian rights could see even more restrictions soon.
Those so-called senior water-right holders typically are not impacted.READ MORE: California's Last Remaining Kmart To Close Before Christmas
“Unfortunately, since we’ve been drawing on it, and there hasn’t been an abundance of recharge — meaning a lot of rainfall. That’s where we’re getting into trouble. Things are not charged up. Our aquifer is not charged up,” said Bei.
The state is trying to balance agriculture’s needs with keeping enough water in lakes and streams for protected fish populations. Bei could lower the well to drill deeper, but that would cost tens of thousands of dollars — even if he could find an available drilling company.MORE NEWS: Sheriff: Modesto Mother, 32, Led Deputies On Short Chase With 2-Year-Old Daughter In Van
Bei says if he has to he can pipe water in from a nearby well. But not every farmer is lucky to do that. The next water board meeting is on August 3.