B12 Solipsism

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California Dreamin of Water

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California is going to have to make some hard decisions about its water1 fairly soon. Their current model is just not sustainable. Doesn’t sound like Senator Feinstein’s plan is the solution, at least from where I sit2

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who angered environmentalists, fishing groups and other Democratic lawmakers by proposing to divert more water to California’s farmers, said on Friday she was working to avoid controversial legislation.

Feinstein’s plan would ease Endangered Species Act restrictions to allow more water to be pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for growers in the state’s Central Valley.

Dramatic cutbacks in irrigation supplies this year alone from both California and federal water projects have idled about 23,000 farm workers and 300,000 acres of cropland in America’s No. 1 Farm state.

Feinstein’s proposal has quickly become a flashpoint in the state’s epic and long-running water wars as opponents say it could ultimately lead to the extinction of Sacramento River salmon and eliminate up to 23,000 jobs in the Pacific coast fishing industry.

[Click to continue reading Senator suggests truce in California’s water fight | Reuters ]

So divert water so that California agribusinesses get it to spray wastefully on their crops? Short term fix, of course, but what happens in two years? Maybe iceberg lettuce is not what should be grown in the first place, nor year-round tomatoes and canteloupes. Maybe food cannot be as cheap as it once was. Something has to change, or this water war will continue forever.

And if California cannot figure out what to do, there are precedents of worse to come:

Yemeni water trader Mohammed al-Tawwa runs his diesel pumps day and night, but gets less and less from his well in Sanaa, which experts say could become the world’s first capital city to run dry.

“My well is now 400 meters (1,300 feet) deep and I don’t think I can drill any deeper here,” said Tawwa, pointing to the meager flow into tanks that supply water trucks and companies.

From dawn, dozens of people with yellow jerricans collect water from a special canister Tawwa has set aside for the poor.

“Sometimes we don’t have any water for a whole week, sometimes for two days and then it stops again,” said Talal al-Bahr, who comes almost daily to supply his family of six.

The West frets that al Qaeda will exploit instability in Yemen to prepare new attacks like the failed December 25 bombing of a U.S. airliner, but this impoverished Arabian peninsula country faces a catastrophe that poses a far deadlier long-term threat.

Nature cannot recharge ground water to keep pace with demand from a population of 23 million expected to double in 20 years.

[Click to continue reading Yemen’s water crisis eclipses al Qaeda threat| Reuters]

Footnotes:
  1. and other topics too []
  2. which is about a mile from one of the Great Lakes, a source of fresh water for many years to come. Full disclosure and all that []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 22nd, 2010 at 7:36 am

One Response to 'California Dreamin of Water'

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  1. […] California may have its iceberg lettuce addiction to blame for its drought, but Yemen’s water drought has a more direct cause: drugs. In this case khat (sometimes spelled qat). […]

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