chapter  4
18 Pages

THE PAST AS PROLOGUE

While there are still farmers without an adequate and reliable supply of water, the region as a whole now has the short-run capacity to meet its agricultural water requirements even if surface water receipts return to recent low levels. However, as will be shown below, the adjustment has made the region's agriculture highly dependent on a level of ground water use that cannot be maintained indefinitely because pumping has exceeded natural recharge to the region's major aquifers. Moreover, government credit, tax, and energy pricing policies continue to encourage pumping and additional investments in irrigation wells and pumps. The prospect of diminishing ground water stocks assumes greater significance when it is realized that the region's agriculture is becoming increasingly dependent on permanent crops, representing substantial longrun investments which could not be fully recovered if there were a major decline in water availability. Currently about 85 percent of the value of the region's agricultural production comes from permanent crops, and the trend indicates even greater concentration in permanent crops in the future.