Economic, environmental hurdles block critical California water transfers

As another summer of drought approaches, hundreds of thousands of acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland are expected to be fallowed, and much of urban California faces 20 percent water cutbacks.

But in the Sacramento Valley, rice farmers have been busy for weeks spreading water 6 inches deep over a half-million acres. Many experts expect a larger crop than last year's.

It's not that no one saw it coming. The state of California devised a program to move some of that water to thirsty cities and fields south of the Delta. The plan made sense on paper, perhaps, but so far it has been hobbled by everything from high rice prices to environmental concerns.

"The state of California did not do its homework with the stakeholders to find out what the impacts of moving a lot of water would be," said Jonas Minton, water policy adviser for the Planning and Conservation League.

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