With the apparent outrage in recent days over the amount of water it takes to grow almonds, and the cries that farmers were left out of the governor’s order in California to cut urban water usage by 25 percent, the real outrage has completely been missed by most.
As I write this, it’s been several days since two irrigation districts openly challenged the Bureau of Reclamation, not in court, but at the canal gates in an act of defiance some think may only be the beginning.
Earlier this week, the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts redirected into storage facilities they control the water the Bureau of Reclamation released into the Stanislaus River to coax salmon and steelhead downstream.
The districts did this in a last-ditch effort to preserve their water rights and protect the urban and agricultural users they serve.
For their efforts, they received a well-deserved standing ovation (figuratively speaking) from locals and at least one prominent San Joaquin Valley newspaper.
Rather than complain about lawns and urban vegetation that feeds no one, people ought to be outraged that actions like this had to take place and the absence of common sense that brought it about.
The real outrage should be that human beings are no longer first-in-line for water in California.
People ought to be indignant, not because they can’t water their lawns and wash their cars, but because government has become so controlling, intrusive and misguided that they serve fish and wildlife over the taxpayers.
It ought to be unthinkable in 21st Century America that running water is a luxury and that human beings must beg for and cart it around in buckets like they do in third world countries.
Where’s the outrage over state and federal agencies spending untold millions of dollars to truck trout and salmon from puddle to puddle during drought conditions while actively draining water storage facilities we built decades ago to help humans?
It’s appalling to think that in a state where billions of dollars are made on high-tech gadgets and ideas that we don’t have the will to harness additional water with centuries-old ideas and technology while looking to state-of-the-art technological advancements to do good things for people and the environment.
This is not a call to ignore the environment or simply use it and toss it for the sake of humans alone. Rather, it is to question the premises and ideas that have put us in this unnecessary and immoral position.
While California’s current drought is one for the record books, state and federal leaders in my opinion have failed constituents miserably by refusing to build new water storage, upgrading water infrastructure and by making humans go to the back of the line for water.
Until we adequately address the laws that have made humans secondary and tertiary rights holders to water behind fish and wildlife, we will continue our unnecessary and immoral descent into additional and untold human pain and suffering.