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Scarce water putting strain on century-old family farmland in Casa Grande

Posted at 4:36 AM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 08:51:21-04

CASA GRANDE, AZ — After nearly a century of memories, every day on this farm in Casa Grande is like a trip back in time for Nancy Caywood.

"When you look around here, you think of my grandad who was out here, working the land as well. It gives you this great sense of pride and you want to hold on tight," explains Caywood.

But holding on is proving to be tougher and tougher each year.

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This farm, like so many others in Arizona, is drying up -- and so are the opportunities.

"It's killing us...You're at nature's mercy. And if you don't get water, how can we keep going?"

Right now, Caywood says this 255-acre farm is only getting a fraction of the water it needs. This summer's rain helped, but Caywood says it's simply not enough.

Without enough water, Caywood says they have to make hard choices about which crops to grow, completely foregoing cotton this season -- meaning one less opportunity to earn money.

RELATED: Growing costs leading to struggles for Casa Grande farm

"My son was very nervous about how we were going to pay our taxes and our water bill, so he leases land and he had a corn contract to try and make up some of that cost to at least be able to hang on."

But things have gotten so bad, Caywood says for the first time in the 91-year history of Caywood Farms, they've actually had conversations about selling down the road if things don't improve.

Growing costs leading to struggles for Casa Grande farm

"We are looking for ways to save our family farm, but we know ultimately that could be the end result because of our lack of water."

Caywood goes on to say, "I think of all the labor they put into this and the love they put into this and then I think of my dad and my son and all the labor he put into this and it breaks my heart to think we wouldn't be doing this someday."

Caywood Farms gets its water from the San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District. ABC15 spoke with the general manager Thursday night, who says they're dealing with a number of issues currently, aside from the drought. Canals are being relined with concrete, a move the District hopes will save water in the long run. In addition, they're hoping the infrastructure package moving through Congress will provide some kind of relief.