In the October newsletter we discussed the plan of some people for the Central Valley and the eventual shrinking of the farm land that produces 8% of the nation’s agricultural output and ⅓ of all produce in the United States.
In the January 2, 2016 issue of The Press Democrat there is a very long article written by Michael Wines and Jennifer Medina. The whole focus of the article is that the drought caused the economy in the Central Valley to take a massive downturn. The writers state that the Westlands Water District described as the nation’s largest agricultural irrigation contractor is a group that has brought its farmers a torrent of water from the reservoirs and aqueducts of the federal Central Valley Project.
The article reports that Westlands is an agency with five lobbying firms under contract in Washington and Sacramento. The agency is pushing for more water from the Federal government since there are federal rules that now set aside Sacramento basin water for salmon fisheries and endangered species like the delta smelt.
The argument is between Westlands that claims those allocations have cut deeply into the allotments of Central Valley Project water and critics on the other side who say that the farmers’ real goal is to find the cheapest water possible.
The other issue that is coming to the forefront is California’s struggling infrastructure with too little water underground and too much from the sky.
The Associated Press reports that “four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster that ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars. The conditions affect everything from canals to well casings to “stretches of a riverbed undergoing historic restoration.”
According to CalWatchdog.com the sinking is buckling the walls of irrigation canals, damaging pipes, creating sink holes and cracking homes. Farmers have been pumping
groundwater as fast as possible in order to keep crops alive during a drought. However, when so much water is pumped out of the aquifer below ground, the clay between the pocket of water collapses and the ground starts to deflate like a leaky air mattress.
The expected El Nino rains are anticipated to do great damage. Structures have been weakened. The dry conditions in hillside and canyon communities will result in great damage in an El Nino winter. A minimal amount of rain can set off a fast-moving debris flow moving anything in its way including boulders, trees, cars and houses. From Ventura County to San Diego County officials are working to clean out debris basins, install protective barriers and have evacuation programs ready.
What is the end game? Well, new groundwater legislation has ensured that some California farmland will be retired. According to Ag Professional, “Groundwater pumping has kept hundreds of farms operating the past four years but continuous groundwater pumping won’t be allowed under the new California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which is set to take effect in 2020. It will limit how much groundwater can be extracted over the long haul.”
If farmers don’t have water, they don’t have a farm and they cannot produce the crops that California and much of the world consumes.
When are voters going to understand that the policies promulgated by the Democrat Party and Governor Brown are totally illogical?
Parts of California are a desert. Then we have cycles of intense rain. Doesn’t logic suggest that there should be reservoirs throughout the state? That apparently makes too much sense.
The other issue that is rarely discussed is the fact that the majority of California’s population lives on the coast. That is where the aquifer is the most shallow. So, water comes from places like the Hetch Hetchy reservoir to provide the water for the three million residents of the Bay Area.
California has not done the work necessary to provide for a 40 million person population. The water system in the state worked for a 15 million person population. But, instead of dealing with the increase in population, the powers that be, influenced by radical environmentalists, have ignored logical solutions and instead have focused on fish and returning the central valley to a desert. Plans have been presented and discussed but the Legislature seems to have problems dealing with the real challenges California faces.
Many green activists are committed to blocking any development that helps support more people. Some of these folks also want to tear down the O’Shaughnessy Dam and remove the Hetch Hetchy reservoir behind the dam. They want to restore the valley behind the dam to its original state. They claim that San Francisco can get its water from other sources.
As California welcomed more people, both legal and illegal, there has been no work done to ensure that the infrastructure needed to ensure sufficient water is built. In fact, as elected representatives blather on about climate change, global warming and carbon, California is increasingly failing its people. This is not the Golden State that so many of us remember.
Voters need to remember and pay attention. Elections matter. Who we elect to the California legislature will affect how the state survives and prospers. We can have an environment that is clean and also provides for our citizens. California needs to become the Golden State again.
For more information click the link to the New York Times article published in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat of December 28th, 2015.