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THE DRY LAND

The fear is sharpest in the Central Valley, the large stretch of farmland that is the country’s fruit basket, salad bowl, and dairy case—where, owing to shortages, the government has cut the flow of irrigation water. Without water, nearly half a million acres of crops have been fallowed, and in some communities unemployment is more than ten per cent. Only the water witches are in high demand. “You learn dousing from your dad,” one lifelong farmer told me. “Mine used a coat hanger with a cotton swab.” Groundwater is a trust fund to prevent devastation in future droughts; this year, those accounts have been all but drained. Up and down the Valley, the wells are running dry.

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Matt Black
FULL STORY

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