san diego rain

Record-Setting December Rains Spell Relief For San Diego Area Farmers

December's record-setting rainfall gave San Diego-area farmers a substantial reprieve from gushing water costs

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San Diego County is in the midst of moderate drought conditions, even after experiencing its 28th-wettest December on record, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

For farmers like Charley Wolk in Fallbrook, last month's rain was money to their ears.

"That December rain was verging on miraculous," Wolk said.

The avocado farmer who also owns Bejoca Grove and Landscape Management Company says the showers helped provide much-needed financial relief for farmers who can pay anywhere from $4,000 to $40,000 a month for their water bills.

"If you get to skip irrigating for a month, that's like someone knocking on the door and handing you $40,000. Merry Christmas," Wolk said.

The most recent U.S Drought Monitor map shows California is no longer in the extreme drought that most of the state was in late last year. Conditions eased after the December rains that broke records in some parts of the state and helped replenish the Sierra snowpack.

U.S. Drought Monitor map as of Jan. 11.
U.S. Drought Monitor map as of Jan. 11.

But we're not out of the woods, just yet.

"So we rely on the snowpack to fill those reservoirs when it accumulates and melts in the spring,” Jeanine Jones with the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) said. “So although statewide reservoir storage recovered quite a bit because of December storms, we still need the rest of the water year to happen and put that snow in the mountains so that it can melt and then fill the reservoirs."

When it comes to getting those reservoirs filled, Wolk is looking for all the help he can get.

“We have to hope and pray we'll get relief in precipitation to fill the reservoirs up," he said.

Because some reservoirs are a water source for San Diegans, Wolk worries about the possibility of them running dry if rain doesn't keep up. That, plus drought potentially worsening drought conditions, add up to even higher water prices for farmers.

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