It’s official – most of California’s 38 million residents are now aware that the Golden State is officially in a severe drought.
While agriculture has lived and breathed the drought, and farmed and fallowed land with a lack of water in recent years, Governor Jerry Brown’s emergency drought declaration released Jan. 20 basically asked urbanites to turn off the water faucet while shaving and stop overwatering lawns.
In his official statement, I wish the governor had implemented a mandatory 20 percent water cutback for city dwellers instead of the voluntary request. Agriculture has already made severe cuts in its water use.
Growers, irrigation districts, farmworkers, processing facilities, and a long list of others involved in agriculture could write volumes on the loss of food, resources, (taxable) income, and jobs due to the drought.
The short-term outlook for surface water in California is very bleak. The governor himself says 2014 could be the driest year on record. Snowpack levels in January were less than 20 percent of normal. All signs point to a dismal spring and summer runoff.
It’s time to pray in earnest for a “March Miracle.”
Governor Brown charged state agencies to develop programs to assist farmers and communities impacted by drought. He called on the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) to speed up water transfers from one water right holder to another to allow water to flow where it is needed most.
A litany of other state promises could provide assistance. The bottom line is California agriculture will have less water in the short term and this spells bad news for this farming mecca considered by many as the most productive farming region in the world.
The drought also adds complexity for California agriculture – a $44.7 billion (with a B) industry - which helps feed and clothe folks at home, around the nation, and the world. The world population is expected to eclipse 9 billion people by 2050; about 30 percent more people than those who currently call Planet Earth home.
I am skeptical over efforts to implement water solutions in California. While State government has good ideas to help weather the drought, events from the past are a constant reminder which could threaten real solutions.
Ridiculous lawsuits by environmental whackos on the preservation of the Delta smelt – considered more important than people and their subsistence – plus other legal maneuvers, have channeled water away from where it is needed most.
Drawn out legal water challenges are likely in the drought debate where attorneys become fiscal winners at the expense of the good people of California – urban and rural dwellers alike.
Is there a way to quickly enact temporary solutions and bypass legal threats, or will lawyers become so entwined in legal mumbo jumbo where solutions sift through the fingers?
In the short term, the only real short-term solution may be well timed liquid and frozen blessings from the sky. The long-term answer is more water storage facilities which help shelter Californians for rain-deficit years.
The drought is not just a California problem or a West Coast problem or a United States problem. In reality it’s really a global concern.
It’s time for those in positions of influence – even environmental organization backrooms – to do what’s right for the public interest versus ramrodding ridiculous personal agendas which fail to feed and clothe people.
It’s time to revisit our U.S. Constitution and practice what our forefathers envisioned. Abraham Lincoln had more common sense than those who manage the destiny of a two-inch long fish.