Politics and California’s Water Situation

California’s drought is hurting its farmers the worst.  Agricultural lands that are dependent on federal and state water are lying fallow or dying from under-irrigation.  The political disputes and environmental disagreements about how to handle the drought, the slow extinction of the Delta smelt and other local fish, and the various long-term solutions for California’s water supply problem are all contributing to the demise of the agricultural community.

The Lompas, owners of a walnut orchard in the Westlands area of Central Valley, “blame government, not nature, for the death of their trees.”  According to Janet Lompa, “the politicians gave all [the water] to the fish.”  The “water war” between the agricultural economy and the environmentalists has been going on for almost fifty years now.  Over twenty-four million people receive all their water from the Delta, a large estuary into which the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers flow.  The two irrigation projects that own pumps in the Delta are the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.  These two systems pump water flowing into the Delta from Northern California and transfer it to Central and Southern California.  Central Valley has an abundance of agriculture, so much so that it has been nicknamed the “Salad Bowl of America”.  But the bowl is becoming very empty as pumping restrictions have contributed, with continuous years of little rainfall, to reduce the water supply to the majority of the state.

Governor Swarzenaggar even petitioned the White House to declare California in a state of “major federal disaster…caused by ‘severe drought conditions’”.  Fifty of the mayors in drought affected towns have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to come see the result of water shortages for himself.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “In the inland areas affected by the court-ordered water restrictions, the jobless rate has hit 14.3%, with some farming towns like Mendota seeing unemployment numbers near 40%. Statewide, the rate reached 11.6% in July, higher than it has been in 30 years.”  The fish aren’t recovering as predicted either.  Other factors such as polluted water, larger predators, and a reduced food supply are all other known causes of the Delta smelt’s decline, yet these issues are not being addressed.  Lester Snow, director of California’s Department of Water Resources, “thinks the biological opinion [issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and responsible for the court decision that caused the pumping restrictions] unfairly targets water supplies over other stressors.”

For more information about California’s water situation please visit www.centralbasin.org

Article Source:http://www.articlesbase.com/politics-articles/politics-and-californias-water-situation-1643770.html

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