Opinion: It's time for Arizona farmers and ranchers to make bold changes, if they want to survive the 'new normal' of water scarcity.
A profound reduction in the Colorado River water earmarked for Arizona’s crops has at last triggered the rationing that irrigation farmers have dreaded. The Tier 1 shortage will prompt a 512,000-acre-foot reduction in Arizona’s Colorado River deliveries.
That amounts to about 30% of Central Arizona Project’s normal supply. Extrapolating from University of Arizona studies, it will result in a decrease of about $100 million in farmgate sales, and much more if the indirect effects are fully factored in.
If your own access to water – or your annual income – was cut by nearly a third, I’d guess you would call that a crisis. In Pinal County alone, this will immediately trigger the loss of 500 jobs.
That is only the start of the agricultural disruptions brought on by climatic changes.