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East County News Service

May 25, 2015 (Borrego Springs)--An emergency order issued by Governor Jerry Brown is having a harsher impact on some communities than others, since the slash-water-use requirements make no distinction between northern forested communities and places like Borrego Springs, which is located in the Anza-Borrego desert.

Beth Hart, president of Borrego’s Water District board, stated at a recent public meeting that the Governor’s order means Borrego would have to either limit irrigation to two days a week or cut municipal use by 25%, the Borrego Sun reports.  Noting the dire potential consequences, he added, “Clearly we are not willing to devastate our valley by destroying all the vegetation here, so our option is to reduce water usage by 25%."

What happens if Borrego fails to meet that goal is not yet clear, Hart told residents of the desert community dependent on tourism for survival, in an area where summer temperatures can reach 120 degrees or more.

The town is also struggling with an even graver problem: draining down its groundwater more rapidly than rainwater has replenished it.  The community is working on a sustainable groundwater plan to address the overdraft. But for now, Hart worries that drought orders from the state could create a “crisis for our community.”


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drip, drip

Before the drought, in 2010, it was estimated that the water extracted is four times more than is replenished by rainfall. Seventy percent of the yearly water output is used on citrus farms, palm tree nurseries, and potato farms. Several golf-course resorts and landscaping account for 22 percent, and the remaining 8 percent goes to homes and other municipal uses. Engineers predicted in 2010 that the aquifer will become desiccated in 50 years. Until then, they fear that declining water levels could degrade water quality and possibly cause the land underneath the golf courses and large developments to subside. Currently there are some nice houses (with pool) for sale in Borrego for less than a million dollars. drip, drip