Federal officials met yesterday to address the drought in the Colorado River. The river is an important source of water for the Southwest, serving 40 million people in seven different states.
It also irrigates about 4 million acres of farmland. Much of it in California's Imperial Valley. Farmer Al Kalin has a 2,000-acre farm there. He says he's worried about how the drought will affect his ability to grow more water-intensive crops.
"All my crops are fairly water intensive. Carrots and sugar beets are a long term crop; it takes a long time to grow them, so they use more water," said Kalin. "But the majority of the acreage here is in alfalfa and bermuda grass, which are both fairly water intensive. We have to use that water as beneficially as possible for the next year or two years because we overran our allotment. We are under stricter regulations and have to use less water."
Farmers in California have the ability to grow year-round, which makes them especially susceptible to water shortages. As farmers are forced to forego planting certain crops, Kalin says the cost of those products will continue to rise.
"Historically, we've done everything we can to be as efficient as possible with our water. We've been working with Imperial Irrigation District to conserve water," said Kalin. "As water becomes more scarce, people will begin to look towards us because we have the biggest share of the water and try to figure out ways to, more or less, take it from us. That's a real concern."