Interview with Carol Thys

On February 22nd, 2011, Abha interviewed Carol Thys, who owns and heads Thy's Ranch near San Diego, CA. She has been farming for over 20 years.

Abha: How has the water crisis affected farmers like you?

Carol Thys: For four years, there have been cuts. At first we only had to cut 5% but as time progressed, the number increased to over 15%. This really stressed the plants that we were growing. We saw a decrease in crops harvested and the quality awful. We ended up planting new trees and we cut back the lot size of our plants just to provide enough water for each crop. There also wasn't enough rain 2 or 3 years ago so more people ended up building wells. The problem is that the more people pump from their wells, the more money it costs because more electricity is being used.

Abha: How have other farmers tried to overcome this?

Carol Thys: At first people tried to sell the crops they produced from little water but they ended up making absolutely no profit. Then they lost value in their land and decided to sell their water rights to the city. It's sad because you have to know what to grow. I grow lemons which are year-round so I always have a high yield and great profit.

Abha: What causes this limited water supply for farmers?

Carol Thys: I live in San Diego, CA and where I live it is a big desert, a famous tourist attraction, and there is a lot of empty space - or at least there used to be a lot of space. Because of this, many amusement parks, casinos, golf courses and water parks have been opened. Sea World, Mulligan's, and Legoland's new water park are the main reasons that farmers in San Diego have not been able to gain access to a steady supply of water. They consume so many tons of water and it has been depleting our water source. Although these things are nice to have, they are extremely unreasonable and consume a lot of necessary resources.

Abha: What is the result of this?

Carol Thys: The farmers don't get enough water so end up producing low-quality crops and then our competitors from Mexico and Chile end up gaining more profit than we do; They are getting our customers and now they are putting us out of business.

Abha: How could limited water pose a problem in the near future?

Carol Thys: 20 years from now you will notice that San Diego will no longer be a place where people can farm. This is a serious problem and we have to act now.