VALLEY CENTER (AP) — A San Diego municipal water agency appealed to the state to revise proposed water cutbacks because most of its users are farmers and they fear abundant avocado and citrus crops will dry up.
Valley Center Municipal Water District is classified as urban, but 70 percent of its water goes to farmers, General Manager Gary Arant told U-T San Diego (http://bit.ly/1aGGgLg).
The district sent a letter Friday to the state water board asking that its growers be treated the same as farm districts, which were spared from the mandatory water reductions Gov. Jerry Brown called for earlier this month.
“In the minds of the State Water Resources Control Board, our ag use is urban use and it’s regarded as the same as ornamental landscape irrigation,” Arant said. “Even though San Diego County agriculture is worth $1.85 billion farm gate value and is the 11th largest agricultural county in the state, our ag is still looked at as urban irrigation.”
San Diego County is the state’s biggest avocado producer, but production has been dropping — partly due to the increased cost of water.
The water board, which has proposed cuts on districts with higher per-capita water use, has called for 35 percent reduction — the maximum — for Valley Center.
The board is not commenting until after a public input period closes Monday.
Arant said that Rainbow and Fallbrook water districts face the same problem because they are municipal districts that use most of their water for crops.
Because the proposed water reductions are based on per-capita water use in September 2014, the state doesn’t take into account the nearly 50 percent the district has reduced in the past 10 years, Arant said.
Per-capita use has fallen sharply since September, from 388 gallons per capita a day to 102 gallons, he said.