When the price of water rises, ag users feel the most pain.
That seems to be what is happening in northern San Diego County, where rising prices of water delivered by the Metropolitan Water District to the Valley Center Municipal Water District is apparently making a big dent in the avocado business, reports Pat Maio:
The district has found itself in the eye of a supply-and-demand hurricane. Water rates have soared 50 percent or more to agricultural customers in the last few years as the chief supplier, the Metropolitan Water Authority, has moved to end a subsidy program for farmers and jack up wholesale rates as supplies have become scarce.
Growers, meanwhile, complain that they can’t keep pace with the higher bills, so some are turning off meters as they abandon fields, either temporarily or permanently.
In the last month or so, meters have been turned off on hundreds of acres of avocado groves in the Hidden Meadows area north of Escondido and along Cole Grade Road in Valley Center, according to farm and water officials.
Other groves are being taken out of production as well. Overall, more than 5,000 acres have been taken out of production in the last year, according to Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau.