By Alena J. Anberg, communications intern

California farmers’ surface water allocations were cut drastically this summer due to ongoing drought conditions. Now, farmers with water rights dating back to 1903 face water restrictions; last time farmers faced such restrictions was in 1977, according to the New York Times.

As the summer months continue, farmers are being asked to make more cuts. Urban water users have already been affected, and California farmers are next in line. A group of farmers in the delta have already agreed to cut back by 25 percent to avoid facing deeper cuts later in the year.

Some farmers are fallowing fields, while others increase reserves and dig new wells.

Many anticipated the cuts and weren’t surprised by the deal water rights lawyer George Hartmann helped work out between them and the state. Other water rights lawyers disagree and criticize curtailing water allocations for farmers with rights that date so far back.

Others point out the concern for rural economies.

“With every turn of the screw as water supplies shrink, more people suffer,” Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement. “Water shortages undermine rural economies, both in the short term and the long term, and these additional shortages will spread that impact to more people in more places.”

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