Thursday , February 22 2024

'60 Minutes' Water Report Angers Some Valley Farmers

A “60 Minutes” piece is drawing some sharp criticism from parts of the local agriculture community. The 13-minute report detailed issues with groundwater and how quickly it’s drying up.  It focused largely on the Central Valley and the surge in well drilling, but some are taking issue with the report.

The 60 Minutes report titled ‘Water’ aired Sunday night highlighting critical water issues around the country, the world and most specifically right here in the Central Valley. Fresno County based well driller Steve Arthur was among those interviewed for the piece but when he watched it on TV,  he says he wasn’t very happy.

Arthur says, ” I was kind of shocked that it was a one sided story.”

The story focused on groundwater and the speed in which its depleting;  being pumped out of the ground before it can be replenished. Arthur says the piece appeared to blame farmers who are forced to drill deeper than ever, because of the drought.

” It made the farmers and everybody look like bad guys and the bad guys are not really the farmers. The farmers are just trying to survive,” says Arthur.

Some are criticizing the lack of farmer input; farmers themselves like Keith Nilmeier.

Fresno Co. Farmer Keith Nilmeier says, ” They should have talked to farmers and really know what we’re faced with and what we’re doing.”

Nilmeier says the story insinuated that farmers aren’t doing all they can to save groundwater which he says is not the case at all.

” Farmers are using probably less water per acre now than we did years ago because we’ve gotten more efficient.”

Ryan Jacobson with the Fresno County Farm Bureau says he didn’t feel the story was one sided, but he did say an important element was left out. He says it should have connected the lack of groundwater to the lack of surface water,  which is an issue the same reporter focused on back in 2009.

Jacobsen says, ” Unfortunately now because of the environmental restrictions we’ve seen specifically in the Delta Area, the lack of surface supply has caused farmers to now have to rely on groundwater and so the two are very much related.”

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