California’s San Joaquin Valley produces 25% of our nation’s table food using 1% of the nation’s land. Grapes – table, raisin and wine – cotton, nuts – especially almonds and pistachios – lettuce, citrus, tomatoes are among the more than 250 crops grown in the area. Pretty impressive for what is basically a desert. But it’s using up what water it has available.
The water comes from two places: the subterranean aquifer below the ground and the Sacramento Delta to the north. California does not regulate below-ground water. You drill your well and suck up all the water you can. So can your neighbor. The subterranean water has been used at twice the rate that nature replenishes it. The depletion is even more rapid now, in the fourth year of severe drought.
The giant machinery that moves water from the delta at the north end of the valley to the arid south can’t keep up with the demand. The farmers in the San Joaquin know whom to blame. It’s the fault of the politicians. Driving along Hwy 99 or I-5 in the valley you will see signs along the road accusing Jim Costa and Nancy Pelosi for causing the problem.
The solution is simple. Agricultural interests want taxpayers to finance the billions of dollars needed to construct giant tunnels and bigger pumps to send more water south. Residents of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta feel differently. Drive the roads in that area and you’ll see billboards with an entirely different message.
Many people see no problem. El Nino is coming and that will solve everything.