California’s San Joaquin Valley is the salad bowl of the world, but is in danger of becoming a dust bowl unless immediate action is taken to change policies that put the needs of fish above the livelihood of people.
Get the Facts:
- California’s water storage and transportation system includes 1,200 miles of canals and nearly 50 reservoirs that provide water to 23 million people and irrigate four million acres of land throughout the state.
- In May 2007, a Federal District Court Judge ruled that increased amounts of water had to be re-allocated towards protecting the Delta smelt – a three-inch fish on the Endangered Species List.
- Because of this ruling, more than 150 billion gallons of water were diverted away from farmers in the Central Valley and into the San Francisco Bay – eventually going out into the Pacific Ocean.
- For the first time ever, farmers on the west-side of the San Joaquin Valley were told they would receive 0% water allocation from the Bureau of Reclamation for their crops this season. That number was subsequently increased to a mere 10%.
- The lack of water has caused 500,000 acres of farm land to dry up – a land mass equivalent to the size of the State of Rhode Island. Also, according to a May 2009 report by U.C. Davis, the water restrictions have left nearly 40,000 people unemployed.
- Because California is the number one agricultural producer in the United States, no water means a smaller food supply, higher food prices nationwide, and increased reliance on foreign food sources.
- Republicans support legislation that would turn the Delta pumps on at historic levels at no cost to the taxpayers.
Then you can watch a couple of videos from Fox News.
First few paragraphs of Carter's piece:
The House Subcommittee on Water and Power, now under the control of Republicans, will hold a field hearing in Fresno April 11 with the provocative title “Creating Jobs by Overcoming Man-Made Drought: Time for Congress to Listen and Act.”
The phrase “man-made drought,” like the terms Obamacare, death tax and death panel, was cooked up by political consultants with the intent to trigger an emotional response from listeners, rather than intellectual analysis. Use of the phrase began surfacing in 2009 when water deliveries to the western San Joaquin Valley were significantly reduced, thanks to reduced rainfall and snowpack and deteriorating ecological conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, triggering the Endangered Species Act.
It was “1984” author George Orwell who wrote that political language “is designed to make lies sound, truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” That is the case with the phrase man-made drought.
Here is how Carter concludes:
Here is how the Fresno hearing will go. Rep. Devin Nunes, if he behaves true to form, will label all environmentalists and San Franciscans as Satan’s Children or worse. Reps. Jeff Denham and Jim Costa (ironically, Costa is loathed by many Westlands growers in his own district) will prophesy utter disaster for California’s economy unless Westlands gets much more water.
The truth is that the Valley’s agricultural economy the last few years has suffered only a modest dip in income, despite drought, natural and man-made. The Valley agriculture industry’s fundamental problem the last few decades has not been lack of water but low prices due to oversupply of one commodity after another. Indeed, some West Side growers are beginning to sell off their water supplies at fat profits. Water is the new cash crop.
To further skew any semblance of impartiality at the Fresno hearing, McClintock has decreed minority subcommittee Democrats will be limited to two witnesses. Naturally, none of the congressmen crying that the sky is falling for Westlands will address the moral dilemma posed by growers getting higher quality irrigation water than the fouled drinking water provided farm workers. Or that industrial agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, which has been irrigated by publicly-funded dam-and-canal projects for well over half a century, has produced the poorest place in America while absentee landholders reap huge profits (and generous crop, water and power subsidies) year after year.
Most speakers at the Fresno hearing will all tout the $12 billion bond measure for the controversial Peripheral Canal/Tunnel which will be on 2012 statewide ballot and Rep. McClintock will probably again promote the white elephant doomed Auburn Dam project. In California’s water world, some things never change. The hearing will result in no legislation to protect Northern California rivers and fisheries, Native American water rights, the salmon industry and the deteriorating Delta. In truth, the Fresno hearing probably won’t even please Westlands officials.
As George Orwell said, politics (especially water politics) “is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” The Fresno field hearing will prove it.
But this drought issue is a moot point, right? Didn't Gov. Jerry Brown proclaim it over?
Be sure to read the entire article. It's real good.
"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” -- George Orwell, quoted in Carter's piece.