Farmers say federal water shut-off will be ugly

FRESNO, Calif. -- The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation made it official Friday: West San Joaquin Valley farmers will receive no federal water this season.

The toll on the region is expected to be severe. A University of California, Davis study predicts that up to 75,000 people will lose their jobs and more than $2 billion will be lost from the San Joaquin Valley’s economy.

“It is ugly,” said Mark Borba, a longtime west Fresno County farmer. “There are growers out there who have no water or who are drilling wells in hopes of getting them operating in time and still others are bulldozing their almond trees.”

Three consecutive dry winters and reduced water pumping to protect dwindling fish in Northern California rivers helped create the dismal forecast. West siders get water from northern rivers through canals belonging to the federally operated Central Valley Project.

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