Drought killing citrus: 'It shouldn't be happening'

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) State lawmakers Andy Vidak and Jean Fuller joined California Citrus Mutual on Friday at Gless Ranch to discuss current water crisis issues.

Gless Ranch is owned by local grower John Gless, who watched 60 acres of his citrus trees get bulldozed because of drought conditions.

"We're almost there, they're almost ready to produce and to have to rip them out, it hurts to watch it," said Gless. "It's just wrong, it shouldn't be happening."

Gless has been growing those citrus trees for 20 years and now does not have enough water to keep them alive, leaving him with no choice but to have them pulled from the roots.

"We need water now, not a couple of months from now, we need it now," said Gless.

Sen. Fuller agreed that the issue must be solved now. She said in order for the problem to be fixed, the government needs to work together to come up with a solution.

"We're letting them die, because we don't have the will to come together as both state and federal government, as both parties, to save them, to bring water here from where it's more abundant," said Fuller.

Sen. Vidak said he has tried reaching the government and the president, but has not had any luck.

"We've sent letters to the governor, we've sent letters to the president, we're doing everything we can," he said.

Joel Nelson, president of California Citrus Mutual, said that if water does not become available, the federal government will be the cause of an economic recession in the Central Valley.

He said the issue to this problem could be solved in a three step solution.

"One, change the existing policy that keeps water from moving north to south. Two, sustain the waiver that we presently have on the San Joaquin River, and do an economical and biological evaluation as to the efficacy of that agreement. Three, long-term storage," said Nelson. "That's what we're after."

According to California Citrus Mutual, an estimated 50,000 acres of citrus will not receive any water allocation this year, which will result in a huge loss of citrus production.