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How one California farmer is battling the worst drought in 1,200 years


Stashed in: Awesome, California, economics, Water!, Climate, California, Medium, Climate Change!, Nuts!, Drought

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Super informative article about how water rights work in the Central Valley of California.

By the spring of 2014, the region’s farmers had gone into survival mode.

They hoped to secure enough water for a decent harvest, but last summer about 15,000 farmers on San Joaquin Valley’s east side received zero allocations of water from the Central Valley Project, the federal project in charge of storing and managing much of California’s water. The state’s worst drought in 1,200 years ravaged the region.

The drought, in combination with this long-established government system for deciding who gets water and who does not, has split the valley. Now Michael’s life, it seems, is almost exclusively focused on finding ways to conserve water and helping his neighbors who lack the precious resource. There’s no time to waste. If Michael and his peers can’t figure out a way to conserve and share the water that remains, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions will be jeopardized. California agriculture is a $46 billion industry, and the Central Valley alone produces nearly half of the United States’ vegetables, fruits and nuts in its Class 1 soil—the highest quality.

I'm not sure how these anecdotal stories of Cannon Michael and his generational family farm stack up with the actual incidence and prevalence of industrial Big Ag the bogey man: with our connotative understanding of much less sympathetic, less caring, less ethical and downright less beneficial practices and administration?

I mean the dude's family had over a million acres back in the day when they were cattle ranchers, and now he's got like 10,500 acres, divided by 40 that's a lot of phucking mules, or three GPS guided John Deere tractors... I'm not sure how I feel about all that:

1) At what size does a family farm stop sounding like Little House on the Prairie and more like Monsanto?

2) I'm happy he's got benefit plans for his workers, but I also wonder how much Roundup he's using and why in the begeezus he's growing one of the most water intensive crops on the planet – cotton!?

I think most Californians, especially new Californians, have no idea how much of our state's history and destiny have already been shaped by the battle for water -- between city and farm, north and south, state and federal, etc. If they did, how could they possibly have entertained dumbass ideas like "Six Californias"!?!? The second I heard about that POS I thought: WHERE DOES HE THINK WATER COMES FROM!?!?! Not Silicon Valley, that's for damn sure.

Also, although they didn't go into it here that well, I believe the now-notorious almond industry was specifically encouraged by governmental agencies to supplant cotton! The rice industry is another super water hog that was entirely created and supported by water rights granted by government. I think a lot of Californians are turning against the idea of agriculture in this state... but will they feel that way when they can't get almond milk in their vegan lattes or tomatoes in the winter?

In any case, my intent with this article was to highlight some of the specifically water-related issues that will become more and more important in this state -- and how they are impacted by the whole history of California agriculture. I've heard a lot of people recently say that "they" should "just" get rid of the almond industry or the cotton, or pay the rice farmers for their water... but the weight of old promises makes it not so quick to solve our problems that way.

Don't forget beef. A hamburger represents 1000 gallons of water. 

water consumption beef hamburger California 1000 gallons How Much Water Are You Really Consuming CBS San Francisco

Also: 10 burgers = 1 year of showers. 

https:[email protected][email protected]-pick-up-some-crickets-eb63bddf0277

Totally specious:

Humans have been living on less than 2% of all fresh water on the planet since we stopped scraping our knuckles when we walk.  Yes, we humans continuously depend upon the smallest margins of potable water available because that potable water doesn't magically disappear into a Big Mac – it passes through grasses to a cow and cycles around again and again continuously, century after century, epochs after epochs.

Yes, that very same water that a California vegetarian is never going to enjoy either on his plate as a burger or in the shower is still passing round and round throughout our atmosphere, throughout ourselves and then ... eventually ... back again – but always out of reach of that now stinkier vegetarian.  Cause somehow an agricultural industry dude beat out that vegetarian to his share of water so he doesn't get to shower and so I can have my burger: oh well – or perhaps no well – I win and I don't care.  Why?

Because California vegetarians and carnivores can win too when they do something better about this than forcing me to eat tofu with petarded logic infographics – if they'd just get up off their own thousands of gallons of water spending asses and go out and change their water usage rights to be in their favor...

Raising my omnivore awareness with mis-representations of atmospheric physics like this instead of just making an appropriate, self-serving economic argument isn't going to cut it.

Yeah, you're right, this is almost all political.

The number of people who understand water rights rounds to zero.

[This comment in response to Joyce Park thread, now way above]

Ahh, I see.

Well then, certainly water scarcity, water supply and water resource husbandry is not a uniquely Californian problem.  Most of the US, believe it or not, is experiencing sustained drought with equal and even less common sense – here in Texas water supply rights are not regulated or issued and it's the "Law of the Straw", meaning take as much as you can suck out of the ground.  Yeah, Idiocracy.  Or perhaps legacy-ocracy.

The legacy of our forebears with their arms extended grabbing all that they can is also a universal one.  So I fart in the general direction of every other culture that laughs at our folly and overly expressive impulses for acquisition and squander.  This is a core cultural principle of every surviving people that has any significant claim to valuable resources... those that don't live marginal existences, or else were displaced, conquered and, sadly, in the case of New Zealand aborigines, eaten out of existence by Maori dietary habits.  Such is the rapaciousness of unfettered humanity and nadir behavioral legacies of our Lord of the Flies paternity.  Although the maternity side of the ledger has its own deleterious excesses too, but that's another epoch.

Back to water and drought: some scientists have already pronounced that our Texas drought conditions are not a drought at all, but the symptoms of continuing global desertification.  A somewhere from beyond sobering to cataclysmic thought for the boom bust impulses of our elliptical capital flows that nourish ever increasing production and consumption in the Lone Start state and elsewhere.

All that being said, I remain an optimist without cable or live stream TV... it's just so much more entertaining to look around.

Regardless of what's causing the Texas drought, how is Texas dealing with it?

Are they forcing you to cut consumption like we're being forced in California?

Nope.  Kinda sucks for them people with the little straws over there...

They drink our milkshake! They drink it up!

This article inspired to me start a Drought stash.  I found this in my California stash to move to my Drought stash:  http://pandawhale.com/post/38225/american-aqueduct-the-great-california-water-saga-the-atlantic

PandaWhale is stashtastic.

Nice, I had forgotten that one. 

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