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Workshop to educate students about drought

By | December 08, 2013 | News

In an effort to shed light on drought conditions in the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation Technology and the California Department of Water Resources are hosting a “Drought Preparedness Workshop” on Dec. 17 at Fresno State.

The workshop in the Alice Peters Auditorium is open to the public and free.

The seminar will begin with an overview of the current drought situation in the Valley and what we can do to prepare for the lack of water from precipitation and ground sources.

“This is the third year below average on rainfall,” said David Zoldoske, director of the CIT. “Look at the Sierras and there’s no snow, our reservoirs are empty. Our three main sources of water come from imports from the delta, snow run off from the Sierras, and ground water. All three are in short supply.

“The workshop is designed to give people both an understanding of the drought and an update on the current supplies. The last half of the workshop will be telling people some of the things that we can do to manage a short water supply.”

The workshop will provide tools for people who are going to be operating in without the normal amount of water. Speakers will include UC Davis plant science researcher Ken Shackel, U.S. Department of Agriculture state executive directors and people from the Department of Water Recourses and CIT.

Shackle plans to talk about deficit irrigation, which is how to give plants less water and not have them be affected. He said there are certain periods of the growth cycle where you can starve the plants but still maintain a crop.

The department of agriculture directors will speak about how farmers can apply for grants from the federal government. They will also discuss that even though the table of underground water has dropped, how to keep down the cost of water pumps and how to make it work more efficient.

The loss of a water supply has dire consequences for all farmers, including the possibility of bankruptcy, Zoldoske said.

“If we end up having a dry season, we’re probably going to see some farmers going out of business and lose their trees or vines or row crops,” Zoldoske said. “Usually, if there’s no water, they can’t borrow money from the bank for their operating expenses. If they can’t get money for that, they’re not farming.”

Because of current environmental restrictions, the San Joaquin Valley can’t receive water from the delta, which is located near Stockton. Zoldoske said most of the water from the delta eventually meets the San Francisco Bay and is lost into the Pacific.

“As long as the current regulations are in place, we’re stuck,” Zoldoske said. “You really can’t replace not having water, but these are some of the ways to reduce the impact it might have on you.”

The Climate Prediction Center still can’t tell what the current weather pattern will be for this year’s rainfall season.

“If this continues I can definitely see water restrictions being implemented into the community,” Zoldoske said. “Things like not irrigating your lawn as much a week, or making sure you turn off the hose when you are washing your car, all these things being implemented can save millions of gallons of water.”

“I think that we need to live our lives going forward as if we are always in a drought,” he said. “We need to be mindful whenever we use water that in fact there’s really not enough water.”

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