The following was published as a Letter to the Editor in the Borrego Sun, 03/28/2013. It appears here by permission of the author.
The only viable options for saving our severely mined aquifer are buying agricultural land for fallowing or adjudication.
It's no coincidence that almost half of Borrego's Agricultural land is up for sale. The farmers see their water levels in the wells dropping and now realize they are the last generation to farm in Borrego. Why would anyone want to spend millions of dollars buying Agricultural land to farm when they know that in 30 years they will have no water.
What we need is a land trust or beneficent individuals to buy our Agricultural land for fallowing. Much of the land is adjacent to the State park and could be turned back into Park land or used for home sites -- a much more efficient use of our water.
Adjudication is a common legal remedy used throughout the West to solve water use issues. Twenty-Two water agencies in Southern California have already successfully completed adjudication proceedings. After negotiations between water users in an area, the court determines what our "safe yield" or recharge is and directs a watermaster to allocate that amount of water. In our case "safe yield" is around 5,000 acre feet of water per year. We currently use 20,000 acre feet per year.
The difficulty with either buying Agricultural land or Adjudication is lack of money -- they are both expensive, although adjudication is much cheaper than buying land. However, the costs of doing nothing are far worse. What will our property values be like with no water? If you want to see what our future looks like when we run out of water Google Spicewood, Texas Water."
search engine by