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pitangadiego

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By Victor Davis Hanson

The air in the San Joaquin Valley this late-June is, of course, hot and dry, but also dustier and more full of particulates than usual. This year a strange flu reached epidemic proportions. I say strange, because after the initial viral symptoms subsided, one’s cough still lingered for weeks and even months. Antibiotics did not seem to faze it. Allergy clinics were full. Almost every valley resident notices that when orchards and vineyards are less watered, when row cropland lies fallow, when lawns die and blow away, when highway landscaping dries up, nature takes over and the air becomes even filthier. Green elites lecture that agriculture is unnatural, without any idea why pre-civilized, pre-irrigated, and “natural” California was an empty place, whose dry, hazy climate and dusty winds made life almost impossible. The state is running on empty.

Domestic and agricultural wells are going dry all over Central California, especially in the corridors south of Fresno to the Grapevine, along the Sierra Nevada foothills, and out west of the 99 Freeway — anywhere there is not a deep aquifer. I have never seen anything quite like this water madness in 60 years, as families scrimp and borrow to drill, or simply move to town to take advantage of municipal wells. I have developed a habit as I drive to work to Stanford of counting the abandoned homes I see west of Highway 41 (sort of like counting those who sit in Wal-Mart not to shop, but to enjoy the air conditioning they cannot afford).  The number increases each week.  Retired couples — or families in general — apparently do not have tens of thousands of dollars to drill a deeper well, especially given the uncertainty of how fast the dropping water table will soon make their investment superfluous. Without water, there is nothing.

Some dry farmland is turning into vacant parcels. Many rural homes must have potable water trucked in. Hispanics who recently immigrated to California and bought or rented older homes with shallow wells in these areas of the valley countryside have no money to drill deeper $30,000 domestic wells. Nor do many poor whites, who often live in isolated communities in the foothills. Who has the capital to gamble on finding scarce water in dicey granite seams?  There is no water in the reservoirs left to recharge the water table or to fill canals that can be tapped for domestic use.

Along the vast West Side of the Central Valley thousands of acres lie fallow — a euphemism that does not reflect the dust that arises from neglected fields. Thousands of acres of West Side nut orchards seem like they are beginning to wither, as insufficient and brackish water from 1,000-foot wells after four years has fatally taxed the trees. The idea that in such crisis times of the last four years anyone would have released millions of acre-feet of precious stored fresh water to the ocean is profoundly immoral. The thought that anyone would oppose the creation of more reservoirs to accommodate a thirsty state population of 40 million is morally bankrupt.

We suffer in California from a particular form of progressive immorality predicated on insular selfishness. The water supplies of Los Angeles and the Bay Area are still for a year longer in good shape, despite the four-year drought. Neither area is self-sufficient in water; their aquifers are marginal and only supply a fraction of their daily needs. Instead these megalopolises depend on intricate and expensive water transfer systems — from Northern California, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from the Colorado River — that bring water and life to quite unnatural habitats and thereby allow a MGM or Facebook to thrive in an arid landscape that otherwise would not support such commerce and population. Without them, Atherton would look like Porterville.

Quiet engineers in the shadows make it all work; the loud activists in the media seek to make it unwind. These transfers have sterling legal authority and first claims on mountain and northern state water. If Latinos in Lemon Cove are going without household water, Pyramid Lake on I-5 or Crystal Springs Reservoir on 280 are still full to the brim.

Why then do those who have access to water delivered in a most unnatural way seek to curtail supplies to others? In a word, because they are either ignorant of where their own water comes from or they have not a shred of concern for others less blessed, or both. We will confirm this ethical schizophrenia should a fifth year of drought ensue. Then even the most sacrosanct rights of transferred water will not be sufficient to accommodate the San Francisco and Los Angeles basins. Mass panic and outrage will probably follow, and no one will care a bit about the delta smelt, or a few hundred salmon artificially planted into the San Joaquin River watershed, or a spotted toad that holds up construction of an urgently needed reservoir.

The greens who pontificate about the need to return the San Joaquin watershed to its 19th-century ecosystem will become pariahs. When the taps run dry in Hillsborough and Bel-Air, very powerful people will demand water for their desert environs, which will in fact begin to return to the deserts that they always were as the thin veneer of civilization is scraped away.

The pretensions and vanity of postmodern civilization will do no good. What value is the ubiquity of transgendered restrooms, when there is no water in the toilet or sink? Who needs a reservoir on the back nine, when there is no water for putting greens? Who cares whether plastic grocery bags are outlawed, when one cannot afford the tomatoes or peaches to put in a paper bag? What does it matter whether the homeless or ex-felons are ensured a job on the high-speed rail project, when there is no money or water to build it? Who cares about a new Apple watch, when he stinks to high heaven without a shower?

Let us face elemental reality. A 40-million person California is an iffy place. It is entirely dependent on a sophisticated, man-created infrastructure of dams, reservoirs, canals, pumps, freeways, rail lines, airports, and schools and universities. Given that the population continues to rise, and given that one in four Californians was not born in the United States and is often poor (California has the largest population in real and relative numbers below the poverty line; one sixth of the nation on welfare payments of some sort lives in California), there is no margin of safety. A drought is but a metaphor about the collapse of an entire way of living

Years ago the state should have ensured that its north-south state and federal laterals — I-5, the 99, and 101 — were completely three-lane freeways, if road carnage and bottlenecks were to be averted. Years ago, we should have added 20 million acre-feet of reservoir storage as our forefathers warned. We should have not released a single gallon of water for theoretical fish restoration, unless the reservoirs had at least a five-year supply of water, insurance for a drought like the present catastrophe.

There should have been direct, non-stop freight rail lines from Oregon to San Diego, before we even dreamed of high-speed rail, whose engineering and operational requirements seem beyond the expertise of the present state. We should have not instituted any “-studies” courses in our state universities until entering students met all math and English requirements and passed an exit exam upon graduation. What good does it do to be politically sensitive when one cannot read or compute at a college level?

We should have either curbed immigration into the state, or ensured adequate affordable housing projects for those whom we welcomed in. Instead, we ignored immigration law and then adopted a “I got mine, Jack” attitude of selfishness, of forbidding new housing construction on the logic that the Silicon Valley grandee would rather have his landscaper live in a Winnebago parked behind a Redwood City cottage than in an affordable condo in the vast empty 280 corridor expanse.

If our biologists and environmentalist were honest folk, they would have said to the public, “Please do not come into California; we instead prefer to restore salmon in our rivers than to provide jobs and drinking water for you. We like looking at open spaces from our backyard decks, not at new housing tracts. And we like a state of the well-heeled in clean-fueled, gas-less Priuses, not the poor puttering around in smoggy used Crown Victorias. The more costly we make gasoline and electrical power, the less we will use of it — even if that hurts you far more than it hurts us.”

But they were not especially veracious sorts, and so they went ahead to turn California into a state fit for 20 million, even as it grew to 40 million — while doing their best to be shielded from the ramifications of their own ideologies.  The logical result of the Bay Area grandee’s world view is East Porterville, not the Berkeley foothills. If those who run the state would just live where the poor do, we would have reservoirs galore, futuristic freeways, and affordable housing.  If the children of the elite fought for a slot at Cal State Stanislaus rather than Stanford, California would be quite a different place.

If it does not rain or snow soon, we are going to see things unimaginable.


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brianm

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Living in Fresno, I see the reality of the drought daily. Its going to get ugly.
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[20150622_195546%257E2] [20150622_195602%257E2]
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I have it made compared to the majority of farmers in the state but wish I was upriver at least a few miles.  I did most of my sleeping for a few days last week in my pickup, checking salinity levels in the water I was using to irrigate alfalfa, shutting off the pump, turning it back on, etc.  Saltwater intrusion is getting pretty bad and will get worse.

EC20150622.JPG 
Salinity20150618.JPG    



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pitangadiego

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As the man said, "If it does not rain or snow soon, we are going to see things unimaginable."

It is going to get really crazy.

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I read a Mother Jones article yesterday and the prospects for one group is looking very good in California.... attorneys specializing in water law!
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Harvey is salinity the salt content in the water?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianm
Harvey is salinity the salt content in the water?


Yes.  It is usually measured by measuring the electrical conductivity of the water, although that is influenced by other factors a little also.  It's best to use water with E.C. below 500 but up to 1,000 is accepted for many crops.  Some crops can tolerate much higher but the salt will accumulate in the soil and cause more problems over time.  In most years, we might only get a little over 300 late in the summer.

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Difficult times ahead !  for most plants.
Well, figs are not much demanding... For centuries they have survived in my district (very dry place) 
without a single drop of forced irrigation, just with Nature's rain. Some would say that was a sin to irrigate figs! 

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Eventually Ca will return to its natural state. In fact all places will. We can tinker with things all we like but if we dont live in harmony with nature we are only fighting the inevitable. 5 years in human terms is 1/20th of a lifetime. In the earths timeframe it isnt even a blink of an eye. Anything we do is only a temporary fix. If mother natur says this is desert then it shall be. If not today then sometime in the future.
I truly hope things turn around out there. If they dont it affects the entire country. So much food is grown out there and most have no clue.
My gut is that one more year like this and we may start to see an exodus from there. When enough people move out then at some point the land will support whoever is left. Maybe 1/2 the state will have to leave before this is over. I read someplace that historically there have been doughts out there that lasted over 100 years. (I forget the exact number) If we are at the start of one of those then its about to get very serious. Lets all pray for rain out there.

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Loved that June storm in Santa Barbara






Flow rate was measured twice: 20+ gallons per minute (gal/min) and 40+ gal/min. Guesstimated flow rate in video: 15+ gal/min. With this funnel tipped 2.5 inch fire-hose, I delivered between 1,500 and 2000 gallons of water to my thirsty trees, during an unusual June rain in Southern California. 1,500 gallons x 8.34 lbs/gal = 12,510 lbs= 6.255 TONS of life saving water.

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There has to be a balance between mankind's selfish ways converting every untouched square inch of land to his needs and the envorinment as a whole. I have no problem with saving the toad, smelt or salamander by letting good water flow out to sea. Probably not a popular comment but a true one. The rains will come. We've been thru these multi-year droughts before. We will survive or we will move on until the rains do come back. Every animal on this planet has a place in the ecosystem. To dismiss one is to dismiss one's self.

Recent 100 animals that have gone extinct (that we know of):

http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/dinosaurextinction/tp/100-Recently-Extinct-Animals.htm

How wolves change the rivers:

http://www.wimp.com/wolvesrivers/

Yes, I'm a full-blown eco-liberal, Darwin-loving, tree hugger who's one of the Californians with a dry well looking at $20-40K in expenses so I am in the thick of it and I still say, save the salamander.

Stepping down off my soap box...

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You get my vote Sue.  Save endangered vertebrates but let the almond tree go extinct in the central valley.  

call 'em as I see 'em.

Tim Zone 10A  Santa Barbara, CA
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Well, let me temper that last statement by saying we should not be exporting vast quantities of water in the form of almonds ( a very water intensive crop,)


Cheers, 
             Tim
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Almond trees planting everywhere in Fresno. Figs being ripped out for almonds too.
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We believe people should be able to work where they want, sell their consulting services to who they want, sell whatever they product to who they want, except almonds?  And we can import what we want from where we want?  Such ideas are self-centered and part of the problem.  The boundaries that we create for a state are not defined by nature but by man.  Should water from NorCal be exported to SoCal?  There are very few places in the state that receive enough precipitation to support the crops and population that exist there.  But the areas that have abundant precipitation usually cannot sustain large production agriculture on a significant scale.

There have been millions of acre feet allowed to flow into the ocean for experiments or because we do not have the storage to capture it and such flows have usually not been of significant benefit to wildlife.  Yes, sufficient flows should be maintained to protect ecosystems but there has been much waste in this area as well.  Earlier this year a large flow was engineered as part of an experiment.  Such experiments should only be performed when reservoirs are at good levels, not in the fourth year of a drought.  The folks that make such decisions should be put on a diet of potatoes and water, IMO.

Yes, I am a farmer but I am fortunate to have better irrigation water supplies than most in this state.  I get sick and tired of people complaining that farmers use most of the water in this state yet the urban residents of this state consume the vast majority of food in the state.

The poor almond.  Somebody decided it needed to be the scapegoat of poor water policies.  A gallon of water per almond.  Big deal!  A watermelon takes about 150 gallons and it is harvested in state of mostly water.  How many ounces of nutrients are contained in that watermelon?  People want to buy milk, butter, ice cream, yogurnt, etc. so they need to allocate water to grow the feed to produce it.  You can't count on the rest of the world to feed your sorry butts.

People everywhere need to consider the food they are eating.  Don't eat more than you need and don't waste food.  What we throw away as scraps would be quickly gathered up for survival by impoverished citizens of this world, I've seen it.  

I read someone post that they should grow prickly pear in the San Joaquin Valley.  Fine, then eat them!  Farmers grow food that people want to eat and are willing to pay for.  Again, every person needs to consider the water that they are using by the food they consume and quit pointing the finger at others.  Here is a pretty good graphic from a liberal newspaper that addresses this pretty well.

http://graphics.latimes.com/food-water-footprint/  Take a look, it takes 3.48 gallons of water for just one ounce of wine!  Cheers! :)

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Reply with quote  #17 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunbar
Well, let me temper that last statement by saying we should not be exporting vast quantities of water in the form of almonds ( a very water intensive crop,)


Cheers, 
             Tim


"A very water intensive crop."  Yeah, based on the statements that are so much in vogue today.

Here's a more objective look at things, the reason I made a reference to potatoes earlier: http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/workgroups/lcfssustain/hanson.pdf


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The drought situation in California is one more reason why food production should not be so centralized.  There needs to be more people who (like those of us here on the forum) convert their lawns to food forests.  If farming in California becomes problematic on the long term due to drought it will be interesting to see how the country adapts to that reality.  I grew up in Iowa with some of the best farmland in the world but nearly all of land is used for growing commodity crops (corn and soybeans) that are processed into animal feed, fuel, corn syrup etc.  It takes a huge amount of resources to produce meat and with all the subsidies for that industry the true cost is far greater than what people pay for it.  The input/output ratio of growing corn to make ethanol is questionable at best.  There must be other ways to use the land that more directly produces food for people.
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Living in the middle of the largest fresh water lakes in the world I can’t possibly relate to the hardships people in California are going through with this climate disaster.  

Lets face it if California food production gets severely affected then people all over the US and here too will scream at the price of food or the lack of availability of some food.

Given the importance of California food production and the gravity of this drought should the federal government not be more involved?
With the USA's vast richness  and leading technological advancements there must be some options?
What are the options for pipelines that can bring in water?  Nearby areas are regularly getting flooded are there methods to capture that excess rain water to ponds and pipeline it in?  When will desalination plants be viable?

Don't pull out your almond trees yet please.


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Pino, very generous of you to offer up the Great Lakes as a source of water for California!  Joking aside, this is a very controversial topic as I'm sure you are aware.  Water is the next oil as they say.
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Steve
Sorry I don't have any water to offer.  Besides the Great Lakes are a shared resource Canada/USA and there are lots of treaties governing them. 
It seems to me this drought is a national problem not just a west coast problem and  I am not seeing any national discussions on options or initiatives.  Maybe I just watching the wrong news sources.




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Steve, I agree with most of what you say, but there are no big subsidies for either grain or meat.  I have grain base acreage but prices have been above support levels for a long time, maybe 15 years.  People should eat more chicken than beef (feed conversion ratios are something 7:1 for beef, 5:1 for pork, 3:1 for poultry); I had tri-tip beef last night so I'm guilty also!

Pino, I think this is more than a national problem.  I don't believe transporting water is financially feasible yet but I'd imagine the Columbia River from Oregon/Washington would be the most logical source for such an endeavor.

I'll point to storage again.  In December we had 9 inches of rain, way more than normal.  I had some alfalfa drown out from being under water for 3 weeks.  Much of this rainfall went right out to sea.  High river flows did not benefit the ecosystem.

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Devil's Advocate says "I believe I should be able to sell hot car radios.  What's wrong with that?  Shouldn't I be able to sell what I want to whom ever will buy it?"

Answer, that is wrong because those are not your exclusive radios.  

Nobody exclusively owns the water in California,  We have to share it.  We don't have enough for everyone to be entirely selfish about how we use it.

First "they" convince us that shipping our jobs to China is cool.  Now "they" want us to ship out a substantial amount of OUR water to China. 

Over 1 gallon per almond?  I googled this. I honestly don't know if the following is exactly true, but if it's even half true almond exports from CA  need to stop:

How almonds are sucking California dry

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30052290

God Bless our freedom of speech.

Tim Zone 10a Santa Barbara CA


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Tim, water rights is established in California by our state's constitution as well as subsequent legislation.  It's a socialist mentality that now says it's okay to take it away for some better good.  I would like to have an ocean view on the weekends and the same justification could be for me to use someone's house on the beach because I thought my need for it was greater.

I already addressed the gallon per almond item above.  You think one gallon per almond is bad?  Look at how many gallons of water you consume daily by the food you eat, it's easy by using the LA Times article I linked above.  The poor almond being criticized by someone who is sipping a 4 oz. glass of wine which took 14 gallons to produce.  Beer is a more efficient choice! :)

Who is "they"?  Consumers want the best goods but at the cheapest prices.  If people don't want jobs shipped out of the country, they should be willing to pay a little more and buy products only made in the USA.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by crunbar


...  I googled this. I honestly don't know if the following is exactly true, but if it's even half true almond exports from CA  need to stop:

How almonds are sucking California dry

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30052290

God Bless our freedom of speech.

Tim Zone 10a Santa Barbara CA


  
The reporter rants but offers no evidence except to say he has secret reliable sources..LOL 
His true position comes out later in the article when he says; "I have to admit, however, it's painfully difficult to stop watering your grass".

Harvey, I thought almonds grow well in arid locations, is the issue because of the many new almond plantings which of course need irrigation to get established?



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Harvey, you're a smart man and that's what makes it fun to argue with you.  I hope you'll share my sense of good natured fun when we debate.  Already you've taught me about the 3:1 effeciency level in raising poultry, far better than I assumed.  Thanks for the education.

I used quotation marks to indicate "They" in the rhetorical sense.  "They" in this case refers to the so called economic conservative mentality which is really a bare knuckled capitalist mentality that amounts to this:  "if I'm making money then it's a good thing, period."

Let me call a spade a spade and say my mentality in this case is not only socialistic, but more to the point it is nationalistic.  My starting point, or prejudice, is that the  lion's share of natural U.S resources should be spent on people who live in the USA, to make our lives better.

The mentality that perpetual water rights means landowners and all their future generations should have exclusive and absolute control irregardless of how it effects those who did not inherit such entitlements is exactly the same argument royalty and despots make.   In that case, give me socialism.

People who inherit water rights did not earn that water anymore than one earns air to breath.  Should industrial polluters have the right to take away the air we breath by fouling it with toxins, because they will make less money if they are not allowed to take that natural resource for themselves?  Isn't that redistributing wealth by making them spend their "hard earned" money to save air for the rest of us?  

Yes it is and we need to do it!


Cheers,
Tim   Zone 10a
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Tim you said "people who inherit water rights did not earn that water". I beg to differ. A person can inherit property that includes water rights, but unless they continue to farm and maintain their claim, they will lose those rights. So yes, they've earned that water by their hard labor, and by the hard labor of those who have been farming that land for the last hundred years.

PS: Almonds may take a gallon per nut, but they're still the most water efficient protein source out there.... Even soybeans take more water than almonds.

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Tim, your use of "they" only pertains to farms and businesses, however.  How about "they" who demand the right to eat what they want?  According to the CARB article I linked above, we should grow mostly potatoes and groundnuts (peanuts?) if we want to make the best use of our water.  Personally, I think white sapote probably has some good potential also (one tree in San Diego was once had an annual harvest recorded of 6,000 pounds).  If we want to regulate what is grown, we also need to regulate what is eaten.  And the capitalistic approach to "making money" is directly impacted by the purchasing decisions of the consumer mass.

Almonds exported to China does benefit the U.S. as a whole.  Sure, it more directly benefits the grower but it also partially balances our purchases of iPhones produced in China, etc.  If we demand products at the lowest prices possible and thereby demand products be imported from China, we need to send something back.  Scrap iron alone won't suffice.

The water rights tied to my farm will be inherited by my son.  I see nothing wrong with that at all.  Nor did the previous lawmakers who wrote our constitution.  Originally, when riparian rights were written into the constitution it granted rights for someone upstream to divert all the water they wanted.  One greedy lady made it clear that wasn't prudent and it was changed to restrict it to beneficial uses only (i.e., can't be stored and horded, extorting money from others so that it's released, etc.).

I don't believe we should be growing corn for ethanol and I don't believe we should be growing sod during times of drought (there is a sod farm about 12 miles east of me).  Otherwise, I believe most crops being grown should continued to be grown unless consumer buying habits change.  Let consumers vote with their dollars (or Yen, etc.).

Comparing water to the air we breath is a big stretch, IMO.  The air polluted in China comes around the globe as does the air polluted by your and my cars.  The water I use on my farm flowed naturally here for hundreds of years.  Our federal and state governments established water projects with the specific objective of developing additional irrigated farmland.  Families (and some large farming companies, but mostly families) invested to develop this farmland and now some think those water rights/entitlements should be yanked from under them.  Already many growers are receiving 0% of the water they are supposed to get but many urban groups have complained that farmers haven't been required to cut back.  What outcry we would hear if a large urban population was told they would receive 0% of the water they were expecting to get!

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Harvey said:   Let consumers vote with their dollars (or Yen, etc.).

lol   Harvey is for a one world government.    Not me, I say America first.  To me, that means all the people who live here.  Now I'll go out on a limb. Mark my words, China will suck us dry if we let them and short-term profit seekers do so. 

Sorry, but pioneer days in the west are over.  We saw what unrestricted capitalism did to the buffalo...  Here's a sad fact, a larger population means we have fewer individual freedoms.  We have to make large scale policy decisions about the distribution of natural resources and other wealth, or we shall soon evolve into a rigid oligarchy.

Read:   CAPITAL in the twenty first century  by Thomas Piketty  and the scales may fall from your eyes.

I do not believe you should have entirely unrestricted "rights" to water that fell from the sky and originally landed on property that you do not own, but it's now yours by virtue of it briefly flowing past your property, any more than I should have a right to steal a car simply because its parked in front of my house. Saying that water is now yours to do with as you please no matter what the long term consequences are for anyone else can not stand in a world of 7,000,000,000 (and growing) persons.

I'm not saying you are stealing water Harvey.  I'm just saying, with regards to the water flowing past your property, your wishes are not the only things that should matter.

Furthermore, I believe my analogy of air with water is valid.  

Many industrialists have shown that i might choose to create wealth for myself while poisoning air in the process, but I should not have the right to take away air that others might use to breath simply because those oxygen molecules are temporarily in my presence.  Similary, that river water would be temporarily in you presence and then gone, whether by gravity or evaporation.

Air and water are both natural resources that nobody produced and therefore nobody should have the right to claim solely for themselves. Neither did any assembly of men have the right to perpetually assign flowing water to landed gentry and their progeny, regardless of what power that assembly of men claimed.

Finally, let me say that I revere farmers and their miracle of affordable food for billions of people, that they provide.  Thank you Harvey for pursuing your chosen profession.  Thank you for this honest discussion.

Tim


 

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Reply with quote  #30 
Harvey said, "I don't believe we should be growing corn for ethanol and I don't believe we should be growing sod during times of drought (there is a sod farm about 12 miles east of me"

Here we completely agree.
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Reply with quote  #31 
Harvey, this article was written in 2011 but I seriously doubt things have changed:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-touts-fruit-and-vegetables-while-subsidizing-animals-that-become-meat/2011/08/22/gIQATFG5IL_story.html

The "meat" of the article is this:

"Of the roughly $200 billion spent to subsidize U.S. commodity crops from 1995 to 2010 (commodity crops are interchangeable, storable foods such as grains and certain beans, and cotton), roughly two-thirds went to animal-feed crops, tobacco and cotton. Roughly $50 billion went to human-food crops, including wheat, peanuts, rice, oil seeds and other crops that become sweeteners, according to a database compiled by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group. About $12 billion went to crops that were turned into ethanol, a use that is consuming a growing share of the harvest."

"In addition to the subsidies that USDA pays for commodity crops each year, it pays about $5 billion directly to commodity-crop farmers. You don’t have to till the land to get these direct payments. In fact, all you have to do to qualify for the payments is to own land on which commodity crops were growing in 1985."

"Three-quarters of the direct subsidies go to the top 10 percent of commodity-cropland owners; $400 million of the total in 2010 went to individuals who live in cities with populations over 100,000 and hold the land as an investment. Millions more went to land-owning corporations, including real estate firms."

They also mention that farmers who grow fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts get no direct subsidies (though the water issue is fodder for debate as we have seen in this thread).  So I think that meat production is heavily subsidized by way of subsidies to commodity crops that are processed into animal feed.  By and large these subsidies aren't going to the family farmer and only a small portion go to farmers who grow human food.  Another take-away from this article is that, in terms of crop subsidies, it would seem California is not treated very fairly.

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I suspect attitudes would change real quick IF California stopped exporting food to the rest of the world, or at least the other 49 states. When you realize that the overwhelming percentage of many, many crops are grown in California (80% is the often quoted number).

We are almost the exclusive source for raisins, almonds, rice, nectarines, figs, etc. etc.

Another issue is replaceability. If you don't water tomatoes for a year, you don't have a crop that year. But if you don't water trees for a year, you likely won't have any trees, and if you start over with new ones, you have probably 5 years before you get fruit again. In the case of almonds, trees that are over stressed for a year never return to full productivity again, even if sufficiently irrigated thereafter.

Take another angle: suppose we said to you that there isn't enough electric power, so we are not going to supply your house with power this year. How does that affect your lifestyle? Apart from installing solar or your own generator, your house becomes worthless (try and sell it). You would probably have to move, and lose you investment in your house. Now you might have to pay rent (if you don't have enough cash for a downpayment on a new house) so your expenses went up. Maybe you work from home, and you have to move you business or job. New schools for the kids, etc. etc. Water works much the same way. Take a farm's water away for a year, and you have no income. If you have an orchard, you will probably loose the orchard. The farm land is worthless without water, so not much to sell, so you loose your wealth/capital, as well. Now you have to retrain for a new job. If you have a family farm, it might leave multiple generations without income: maybe you, some or all of your children, your grandchildren, etc.

Generations of families have developed their farms and orchards based on the laws regarding water rights that go back 100 years and more.. If you now change the rules of that game, it is no different than saying to Starbucks, or Target that they will no longer have electricity. Too bad you spent all that money on a building and merchandise and parking lots, equipment, etc. that you can't use, now. Oh, and have a nice day!!

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Reply with quote  #33 
Tim, you appreciate the U.S. constitution that grants you the right to free speech. I appreciate the California constitution that grants me rights to the water that flows past my property for any beneficial use I see fit.  You don't have to like it any more than I dislike your expression of your opposition to my rights.  My rights are further established by a legal settlement from 1981 that resulted from the state diverting water illegally in 1977 to serve junior rights.  If the state decides they need the water I and a group of other landowners in my water agency they are required to pay us for our crop losses.  You might not think I'm entitled to the water but the constitution and lawyers disagree.  I do not have scales covering my eyes but work my butt off to feed people and am fed up with lazy folks criticizing me for doing so.  Yes, I get paid okay for doing so but do it more for the satisfaction of seeing "fruits of my labor" (I made considerably more at a much easier job which I quite several years ago due to boredom.)  You read the articles I posted links to, they're much shorter than your leftist book.

Steve, things have changed considerably since then.  I have corn acreage base so I know a good deal about such subsidies (I previously grew corn).  Use for ethanol production, which I've already said I disagree with, has also declined due to falling oil prices.  I also dislike the effects of alcohol on small engine parts.  I suppose if we had huge surpluses of corn I might support the use of that corn for ethanol production but that has not been the case for some time.

Perhaps the Sites Reservoir will actually get build and help, but this should have been done long ago.  We need more than just one additional reservoir, however.

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Reply with quote  #34 
Harvey, I think productive farmers should have priority water rights, but since it is a limited resource that belongs to all Americans your produce should be sold exclusively in America.  Heck with the trade imbalance, our water imbalance is far  more critical.   We are sucking our ancient aquifer dry.  We don't even know how much water remains.  spooky

As for calling me lazy, I'm not the least bit offended. I pulled no punches and anticipated that you might get a little hot. For you it's much more personal and I get that; it's your heritage and livelihood. For me it's an academic discussion.

I do mean well.

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           Tim   Zone 10a Santa Barbara, CA
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Reply with quote  #35 
Tim, I did not call you lazy.  Anybody that collects water from the gutter isn't too lazy.  Many of the people writing and complaining about water use by farmers are lazy, seemingly with no idea where there water comes from.

However, you are trying to change state, national, and international law and that is not an efficient use of anybody's time because you it's next to impossible to changing any of those.

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Reply with quote  #36 
Quote:
Harvey, I think productive farmers should have priority water rights, but since it is a limited resource that belongs to all Americans your produce should be sold exclusively in America.


Lets hope the rest of the world doesn't take that approach to everything they produce and sell to America, especially oil.

I have to agree with Harvey on this issue. If you have water rights you have them. If you don't, well, then you don't. Does it suck to run out of water? Yes. Does it suck to lose your investment in your property? yes.

I see things a little differently than others. So many look at their home as an investment. Its not. Its a place to live and raise a family if you have one. Unfortunately we have all been sold this bill of goods called the American dream where the bankers get rich by selling mortgages and the rest get hosed by buying them. It all looks great on paper when the values are going up and no one complains when they do go up in value. However where is the law that says you cant lose in real estate? 100 years ago there was no such thing as a 30 year mortgage. 5 years was about the max and people bought homes to live in, not as an investment unless they were rental properties. This isn't some fringe way of thinking either. During the bank bailouts in 2008, Geitner got on meet the press one morning and said, if the banks fail it affects all Americans because your homes automatically go to a value where someone can only buy with cash. That means a 300k home may only really be worth 30k. Common sense stuff but the media in cahoots with the banks make it sound like real estate is a no lose investment. Sadly it isn't.

Again I feel for anyone caught up in this but as the saying goes, buyer beware. If you bought property without water rights then you took your chances and lost. Call it an act of god or nature or whatever you want but the reality is you cant  make it rain and deliver water where nature doesn't want it. As humans we can't just keep altering things and expect nature to cooperate. If we do things that are unsustainable then eventually we get to the point where we see the "UNSUSTAINABLE" part. Even if we create diversions to make things livable for another 10-20 years what happens then? If this drought goes on for 50-100 years then everything we do is just a waste of time and resources.

Bottom line is there is going to be fallout from this. I would rather see the farmers continue to grow crops to feed the population rather than someone get water to grow grass in the front lawn.

Of course here it wont stop raining. I haven't cut my lawn in weeks its so wet. Fortunately we haven't had much sun so it hasn't grown much anyway. I wish I could divert this rain out west :).

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Reply with quote  #37 
Quote: I have to agree with Harvey on this issue. If you have water rights you have them. If you don't, well, then you don't. 

Look at history, we have proved time and again self-centered, unfettered, capitalistic access to natural resources by a growing population results in the demise of the resource for everybody.  That is unwise if not immoral.

The passenger pigeon or wild pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) is an extinct North American bird. it was once the most abundant bird in North America, and possibly the world.[2][3] It accounted for more than a quarter of all birds in North America.[4] The species lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century, when hunting and habitat destruction led to its demise.[5] One flock in 1866 in southern Ontario was described as being 1 mi (1.5 km) wide and 300 mi (500 km) long, took 14 hours to pass, and held in excess of 3.5 billion birds. That number, if accurate, would likely represent a large fraction of the entire population at the time.

We can not count on the good will of all individuals to preserve and protect our natural resources, that's the reason the EPA is necessary.

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           Tim Zone 10a Santa Barbara, CA
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Reply with quote  #38 
Harvey, it is funny you said this: " However, you are trying to change state, national, and international law and that is not an efficient use of anybody's time because you it's next to impossible to changing any of those." 

Because, that's exactly what I'm trying to do.  I'm sure this may sound unreal, nevertheless I'm close to completing the composition of a statewide ballot proposition, the Proof of Truth in Federal Elections Initiative.  Some time shortly after the first week of July, the web site ProofOfTruth.ORG will be operational and tell all about it.  Stay tuned, I believe it's a rather clever response to the Citizens United, Alvarez, and Susan B. Anthony List rulings by the Supreme Court. This blog is the first public forum to receive this information.


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Tim Zone 10a Santa Barbara, CA
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Reply with quote  #39 
Back in the old days, most houses had cisterns and used rain water to supplement what shallow wells produced. A lot of what we are facing today in cities is the result of outlawing the use of cisterns, sumps and inadequate building of reservoirs to store water during plentiful years. Landholders in may states are barred from building ponds to capture run off water. Instead we allow water to run into storm drains which run into concrete drain paths and out to sea.  Long Island has no natural water and gets about the same amount of rain as much of California but has much less of a water problem despite a lot of urban growth because of the use of sumps which capture the water and allow it to return to the aquifer rather than being flushed out to sea.  California is not unique. The lake I live on  in SC supplies water to Atlanta. The last year of our 3+ year drought, the lake had dropped 30'. Meanwhile we were obligated to supply Atlanta, to feed the turbines and the nuclear reactors in the Savannah river basin and to flush hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to the sea every hour to protect a small green frog living somewhere below the nuclear plants in GA. Duke Energy has built an interesting reservoir near lake Keowee that captures water below the plant and pumps it upstream, into a reservoir they built to supply the plant. Water is released from the reservoir as needed to feed Lake Keowee and its nuclear plant, the end result being that water is being recycled and less is being lost. We need more of this type of activity upstream where salinity is not an issue to preserve water supplies downstream.  It may not be easy to find areas to build new reservoirs but a perfect 'shovel ready' project in this area would have been to deepen all those sections of Lake Hartwell that were dry as a bone. Very few of the landowners would have complained about having deeper water around their property. Atlanta would be less pressed for water and both the nuclear plant and toad would have been happy to have a better supply of water and less concerns about salinity either killing the frog or damaging the plant in dry years.  People are just short sighted so much of the time.
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"Not sure how many of you know this, yet Obama had passed a law to take water from major water sources in the case of a major water shortage to save it for the military which would in turn kill a lot of Americans who have nothing to drink, and dead plants so way less food to go around."

Alan, if such a law exists then it was not President Obama who passed it.  Only the legislative branch can pass laws.  The executive branch carries out the laws.  The President can veto a law passed by congress but cannot pass laws.  For more info see: https://www.usa.gov/branches-of-government

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Reply with quote  #41 
I'd like to add my 2 cents to this discussion. The  'elephant' in the room is the on-going geo-engineering of the world's climate. All of this talk of replacing lawns with vegetables or ripping out almonds is missing the bigger picture entirely. Millions of people around the world have awakened to this program, but soon we won't need to worry about almonds or figs or tomorrow. Go to http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org  Sorry, I just had to say it. A friend believes that the Gov could not successfully carry this out. I agree, but the military can and is. 
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Link

This is a perfect illustration of why the drought is worse than it needs to be.

We had the wettest May on record and not a single politician or bureaucrat in Poway thought that water use might drop when there was rainy weather, record rainy weather. They just assumed that everyone would use the same amount that they did last year, and the year before, when May was a dry month.

And, after discovering their mistake, when it was too late, they had no creative ideas on how to save the water or put it to beneficial use. Save water; save money: we don't need that water.

"Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water went to waste in California at a time when water conservation efforts are more serious than ever for the drought-stricken state.

The mayor of Poway, a city in San Diego County, defended the decision to dump 550,000 gallons of drinking water into a nearby canyon, according to ABC affiliate KGTV.

“It was a perfect storm of conservation and heat,” Poway Mayor Steve Vaus told KGTV.

In an ironic twist, the reason so much water was lost was because of conservation efforts. The water sat in the Blue Crystal Reservoir for too long, according to KGTV. Heat created a chemical imbalance of chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia used to disinfect drinking water, making the water, according to state regulations, unsafe to drink.

“I think it’s a shame, the city should have prepared better for it,” said resident Helen Shelden.

More than 500,000 gallons of water can reportedly supply four households for a year.

Vaus said the water was dumped rather than being put back in the lake where it came from, because it would be too expensive.

“This was just an unfortunate consequence that pains us, but we want to keep our people healthy,” Vaus said.

The mayor said the water wasted is a small amount compared to what residents use annually, according to KGTV.

The City of Poway did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment."


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Reply with quote  #43 
Price Increase

So, now people are discovering a new truth: if you use half as much water, the price has to double so that water departments have the same $ income. The more you conserve, the more the price has to go up.

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Reply with quote  #44 
"Not sure how many of you know this, yet Obama had passed a law to take water from major water sources in the case of a major water shortage to save it for the military which would in turn kill a lot of Americans who have nothing to drink, and dead plants so way less food to go around."

Alan, if such a law exists then it was not President Obama who passed it. Only the legislative branch can pass laws. The executive branch carries out the laws. The President can veto a law passed by congress but cannot pass laws. For more info see: https://www.usa.gov/branches-of-government

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Steve, what you stated is our Constitution. What has been happening recently is a runaround of the Constitution by excessive targeted use of Executive Orders by Obama to circumvent legislative action. Numerous examples exist that can be found such as immigration law. I am just not sure if executive orders are being implied here with water use issue.

Constitutional law was my best subject in law school. It is a shame our country's leaders are tearing it to shreds for political gain.

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Reply with quote  #45 
GolfMomTN, I was responding to a comment asserting that the president passed a law.  Executive Orders are another matter.

"What has been happening recently is a runaround of the Constitution by excessive targeted use of Executive Orders by Obama to circumvent legislative action."

All recent presidents have used executive orders.  Democrats were unhappy with Bush's and Republicans are unhappy with Obama's.  However, the current occupant's rate of issuing executive orders is rather low compared to other presidents.  For example, see the chart in this article comparing executive orders among presidents:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/24/barack-obama-executive-orders-immigration_n_6213800.html

This is a tangent that has nothing to do with figs or the CA drought and I won't comment further on this but if you want to discuss more please PM me.

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