April 28, 2016

Western Growers Sets the Record Straight on Federal Drought Legislation

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Peter Gleick derides efforts by Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Valadao to pass legislation that would alleviate some of the damage done to farms and farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley who have watched El Niño water flow past their farms and out to sea.   

The crux of Gleick’s argument? “Both bills approach California’s entrenched water problems from the misguided idea that we can squeeze even more water out of an already overtapped system.” In other words, there isn’t enough water to sustain San Joaquin Valley farms.

That he and others of his thinking would so readily consign thousands of their fellow Californians to economic and social decline is unfathomable. It is also – even under the harsh Endangered Species Act regulations governing the Delta – indefensible. During this El Niño, massive amounts of water that could have been diverted and stored, even under the ESA rules, were lost to the Pacific Ocean.   

How much water has been lost this year? More than one million acre feet. That is over 340 billion gallons of water, or nearly 3.2 million gallons per day. For perspective, this would be enough water to restore over 260,000 acres of productive farmland, which is roughly half of the San Joaquin Valley acreage that has been dried up due to the drought. 

In light of these facts, only one question remains: How much more water will we lose in service to the agenda of those who would forcibly degrade the economic future of the San Joaquin Valley?