Since February 1st, 72 percent of inflows into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have been sent to the ocean.

More than 2.8 million acre-feet of water flowed into the Delta, but only  693,000 acre-feet were pumped to farms and cities to the south.  More than 2 million acre feet flowed out to sea.

In an April blog posting, Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Doug Obegi wrote, “How we manage water during a drought has consequences that last for decades.”

That’s certainly true for Francisco Galvez.  Now 35 years old with a wife and six kids, Francisco has been working on California’s farms since he was 17.  He left his home in Mexico in fourth grade to work.  California’s immense and once-thriving agriculture industry gave him economic opportunity he couldn’t find in Mexico.  But now, due to the drought and Endangered Species Act rules that were used to let precious spring runoff flow out to sea, Galvez is out of work and out of money.  He is ready to give up on California.  As Los Angeles Times reporter Diana Marcum wrote in article published today:

“In May, a season when Huron's population once doubled with workers planting and picking, Galvez had found three days of work in two weeks.

The family was down to the amount of his last check: $256. They had stocked up on huge bags of beans and rice. The Mormon missionaries had brought misshapen cupcakes, the cake not reaching to the top of the cups and canned chocolate frosting three times higher. Two family friends had brought over bags of sweet breads and cilantro from their garden.

Galvez and Maya called a family meeting. Galvez said they told the children they would probably be moving to Texas soon.

The 15-year-old, Itzel, said no, she had a boyfriend. The 11-year-old, Francisco, said no, he liked his school. The oldest son, Manuel, said not a word. He only put a hand on his father's shoulder.”

So yes, Mr. Obegi, you are correct.  How we manage water during a drought crisis has consequences that last for decades, for Francisco and Maya Galvez, their six children, and tens of thousands of other mostly Latino farm worker families who have been endangered by the Endangered Species Act.

Western Growers

With temperatures across the state soaring well into the 90’s and with some areas possibly reaching 100 degrees, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issued its first high heat warning of the year.  Cal/OSHA, the division of DIR that protects workers from health and safety hazards, issued the warning to employers as temperatures in both northern and southern California are expected to be 15-25 degrees above normal. The unseasonably high temperatures make the risk of serious injury from heat illness to outdoor workers, such as farm laborers, a serious threat.

Greg Nelson

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