California’s four years of drought is now having another agricultural impact on farmers besides the shortages of water for irrigation in some areas. Livestock producers are starting to find their springs and wells drying up, sometimes for the first time since their families purchased the properties back around 1900. This makes it more difficult to get enough water to their cattle, since they either have to pump from longer distances or find other sources of water for the animals. Some of the demand has been reduced by culling of the herds over the last few years, which has lowered the number of animals in the state. This has reduced the need for feed, making water all the more important. You can read a news story about the problem at the San Luis Obispo Tribune here.
Another issue of concern is the competition for water demand between livestock producers and native wildlife like tule elk. Yahoo News had a story in April about Point Reyes National Seashore and the demand by farmers that free-roaming elk that were reintroduced in to the National Seashore should be fenced out of some areas to preserve grass for their cattle. You can read that story here. Environmentalists are concerned because previous attempts to fence in the elk caused a significant number of animal deaths.