Thursday, July 30, 2009

The California Drought

Calif. farmers say feds make drought worse
By William M. Welch, USA TODAY

FIREBAUGH, Calif. — The road to Todd Allen's farm wends past irrigation canals filled with the water that California's hot Central Valley depends on to produce vegetables and fruit for the nation. Yet not a drop will make it to his barren fields.

Three years into a drought that evokes fears of a modern-day dust bowl, Allen and others here say the culprit now isn't Mother Nature so much as the federal government. Court and regulatory rulings protecting endangered fish have choked the annual flow of water from California's Sierra mountains down to its people and irrigated fields, compounding a natural dry spell.

"This is a regulatory drought, is what it is," Allen says. "It just doesn't seem fair."

For those like Allen at the end of the water-rights line, the flow has slowed to a trickle: His water district is receiving just 10% of the normal allocation of water from federal Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs. He says he's been forced to lay off all his workers and watch the crops die on his 300 acres while bills for an irrigation system he put in are due.

"My payments don't stop when they cut my water off," Allen says. Read More

No natural disasters are ever fun, but I think going through a drought is one of the worst. It’s like death by a thousand cuts. And to make it more frustrating, the California drought is being caused more by government policies than it is by Mother Nature. Somewhere along the line, we lost sight of the fact that humans are important too. Rather than trying to strike a balance to accommodate everyone and everything, regulations like the Endangered Species Act require humans take a back seat and accommodate these animals at any cost. Unless you enjoy eating sunshine and scenery, we are going to have to bring some common sense back to policies that affect our food supply.

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