Is John Vidovich planning to sell off the valley’s lifeblood? Or is he just the newest water baron on the block?

April 1, 2019
by Lois Henry
Lois Henry

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When you first meet John Vidovich, everything from his ball cap to his dirty boots tells you he’s a farmer.

He certainly looks the part in his well-worn jeans and checkered shirts.

But this outwardly unassuming multimillionaire has become a lightning rod of controversy.

Because, while he does farm thousands of acres of pistachios, almonds and grapes, many believe the only harvest Vidovich is truly interested in is water.

Water that he will take, critics fear, and eventually sell to Southern California cities.

In fact, his detractors call him the single greatest threat to Central Valley farming ever to come down the pike.

Not a chance. No way, according to Vidovich and his longtime associates.

First of all, the myriad laws and rules that govern water wouldn’t allow that to happen, they say.

Second, “I’m a farmer,” Vidovich says. “And I want to keep farming.”

The truth, as always, probably lies somewhere in between.

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.

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Maven’s Notebook is an excellent daily accounting of California water happenings statewide.