For residents living in areas effective by the ongoing drought, water usage restrictions and fines have encouraged many to install artificial grass or other drought-tolerant surfaces for their front and backyards. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for those who depend on water for their livelihood.

The state of California recently ordered farmers, many of whom are holders of senior-water rights granted over a century ago, to reduce water usage. Farmers are taking the matter to court, however, as water is one of the essential resources behind their respective businesses.

Jeanne Zolezzi, an attorney for two small irrigation districts serving farmers in the San Joaquin area, says she plans to go to court next week to stop the board’s action. She said her clients include small family farms that grow permanent crops such as apricots and walnuts without backup supplies in underground wells or local reservoirs they can turn to when they can’t pump from rivers and streams.

“A lot of trees would die, and a lot of people would go out of business,” said Zolezzi. “We are not talking about a 25 percent cut like imposed on urban. This is a 100 percent cut, no water supplies.”

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