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California cattle rancher braces for worst drought ever

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 8:42 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 9:25 PM EDT
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PETALUMA, Ca. (KGO) - In California, bay area water experts are saying it is not a matter of if but when they put mandatory conservation orders in place. There has been that little rainfall this year especially in the North Bay.

Wayne Freedman went to a ranch where the owner has contended with the drought for decades and he is not optimistic about where we’re heading.

In the Sonoma County Dairy Belt, known as the Two Rock Valley, people find comfort in seasonal predictability. Flowers bloom and the cows come home.

That is how it is supposed to be but this is 2021.

Freedman asked ranch owner Don DeBernardi “what is the one thing you haven’t gotten?” DeBernardi replied, “rain, which we need really, really bad.

So bad, that this year Bonnie DeBernardi has already abandoned her spring garden.

“My roses were so beautiful this year,” said Bonnie DeBernardi.

That is just the start of it. Don said they are at 5 inches and should have 18-19 inches by now of rain.

Don’s reservoir pond usually will fill with rainwater runoff every year. Now, the pond can be easily passed without notice.

When the pond is filled it should have enough water to run the ranch and hundreds if cows for a year and a half, but not now.

Don has ranched the land since 1976. He weathered the drought that year and in the 1990s. In 2014, he had to dig a well which turned out dry. Don has never seen an April as dry as this.

Already Don is buying some hay and spent tens of thousands of dollars for a water delivery truck. Californians are fixated on COVID and vaccinations right now. Not many people see what’s coming.

Most people don’t live in a ranch or rely on a pond so the drought is not noticeable to most.

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