Groundwater repayment coming due early for some valley farmers

 •  by Lois Henry
This article is originally from The Bakersfield Californian.

Fixing our groundwater deficit will be painful.

No way around it.

And growers in the massive Semitropic Water Storage District are learning that sooner than most.

Though the state has set a series of short- and long-term deadlines to restore the depleted water table, Semitropic is so far in the hole it got special legislation passed in September allowing it to ramp up its own timeline — and landowner fees.

It’s holding a vote on Wednesday to slap a $500-per-acre surcharge on any “new” ground developed for farming and is proposing to use satellite imagery to determine exact water consumption by crop.

If those crops use more water than is considered average, growers will have to pay an extra $90 per acre-foot, on top of land assessments and water charges they’re already paying.

Some farmers are saying it’s just too much.

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