Water allocation puts many in bind as drought worsens
By Michael Gardnerand Mike Lee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS
August 4, 2008
In the Imperial Valley, wheat farmers such as Mark Osterkamp greatly increased the acreage they planted – and their water use – with an eye toward reaping big profits this year.
Three hundred miles north, in the heart of California, nearly 50,000 acres of San Joaquin Valley cotton fields were left unplanted or abandoned by growers faced with severe water shortages, such as Fred Starrh.
As in real estate, it's all about location. Growers close to major rivers, such as the Colorado, Feather and Sacramento, routinely weather California's periodic dry spells thanks to priority water rights and, in some cases, a bountiful underground supply.
Others, dependent on California's convoluted system of irrigating its $31 billion-a-year agriculture industry through a network of state and federal water projects, find themselves far down the priority list when supplies run short.
Urban leaders in particular cast jealous eyes at farmers' water allotments, eager to secure more supplies for homes and businesses, especially during droughts.
“(Agriculture's) consumption of a very valuable resource seems out of size with its contribution to the state,” said Marney Cox, chief economist for the San Diego Association of Governments. Read More
One statement that should concern everyone who reads this is the one by Marney Cox who doesn’t believe that agriculture contributes enough to the state to deserve the water they use. It’s my guess that she probably eats on a daily basis, yet doesn’t think that agriculture contributes to anything. What good will the increased developments be if the people that live there have nothing to eat?