Austin-based LCRA is the "chief arbiter" of who gets water and who doesn't, and the move to cut off water for downstream farmers was perhaps an inevitable move, Price reports. If the drought continues into 2013, those farmers could be cut off again. LCRA adopted stricter guidelines this February that reduces the amount of water released to farmers while almost doubling the amount for cities and power plants.
Most rice farmers aren't feeling the pinch, because their fields are insured, but the consequences of a "no-rice year" are reverberating in rural towns whose economy is tied to the crop's production, Price reports: "The woman who sells diesel oil for farm equipment; the pilots who eke out commissions spraying fungicide from tiny duster planes; the chicken farmer who buys rice hulls, the protective layer of the grain, for litter; the calf-cattle rancher who buys the bran, the hard outer bit that gets polished off when rice is made white, for cattle feed -- these people all find business is off as the rice crop has dwindled." (Read more)