Mar 1, 2010 9:31 PM by Ariel Wesler

Heavy rains cut slightly into California drought

Despite all the rain we've seen in recent weeks, California's drought situation is far from over.
Farmers in Santa Maria depend heavily on groundwater to nourish their crops. They say they desperately needed the rain, but it's also created its share of problems.

For farmers like George Chavez of Santa Maria, the recent rains are both good and bad.

"It fills up the reservoirs. It fills up our water table underneath, which is great for the agriculture industry, Chavez said.

He runs L&G Farms and says the downpours have also damaged some of his crops.

"It looks nice and clean, but this is from the effects of the rain the other night, Chavez said.

He and his workers have had to throw away their fair share of berries.

"All the fruit there on the floor, that's all damaged fruit that you get," Chavez said.

L&G farms say they normally toss five percent of their berries, but this year, with the recent rains, they're getting rid of close to 30 percent.>

While lots of rain can help or hinder farmers, California loves it and wants more. After three years of intense drought, state water experts predict less runoff from the snowpack.

"A lot of that will go and replenish the watershed naturally. That means that less water may actually be dumped into the reservoirs," said Eric Alvarez with the Department of Water Resources in Sacramento.

That's the main issue--how to make more water available in our storage areas. Currently, most growers in santa maria do not use state water. They depend on groundwater to keep their crops prime for picking and packing.

"Sooner or later, I'm sure everybody's getting pretty close to using state water for agriculture," Chavez said.

Just how soon will be up to mother nature.

Most areas have already above average rainfall for this time of year--something the state says will go a long way toward recovering from the drought.


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