​California farmers fear wells will soon go dry

KING CITY, Calif. - Farmers in California are growing increasingly worried about the drought gripping their state. The water needed to irrigate crops is becoming increasingly scarce, as the rest of the state begins to abide by mandatory water restrictions.

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Jocelyn Bridson, Director of Resources for Rio Farms
CBS News

Jocelyn Bridson is Director of Resources for Rio Farms which grows 20 different vegetables on 3,000 acres.

"Our reservoirs are near empty," said Bridson. "We haven't had the rainfall we need this year or last year, so we're concerned."

Across California reservoirs are so low that most of the state's farmers will get no water from reservoirs this year.

In the Salinas Valley the only water available comes from wells. Bridson regularly measures just how deep the pumps have to go to reach water.

"We haven't seen any wells go completely dry yet, but there are farmers nearby that have heard air sputters from their wells," said Bridson.

Well drillers are hard at work further east in California's Central Valley where wells have been going dry. Farmers are lined up for one of the seven busy rigs driller Steve Arthur runs. Arthur told CBS news the drills go down 1,000 feet into the ground.

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A farmer in California covers his strawberries with plastic to slow evaporation in an attempt to conserve water
CBS News

To preserve what water there is farmers have been changing the way they irrigate. In the Salinas Valley, drip systems that deliver just what's needed are now widely used on fields where water once routinely flooded down the furrows.

Strawberry growers go even further, covering the earth in plastic, partly to slow evaporation. With water scarce farmers insist they are not wasting it, they are using it carefully to feed the rest of us.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.