Farm Progress is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Serving: East

Drain Hetch Hetchy and send the water to Westlands

The California Aqueduct
<p>The California Aqueduct.</p>

To show just how out of touch the happy people in the city by the Bay are, they believe it’s “too soon to use the ‘D’ word .

Now that California Governor Edmund Brown Jr. declared a drought emergency in an official proclamation does not mean the fight is over or the situation is soon going to get any easier in the near term. As I write this Fresno, Calif. has not seen any rain – zip, zero, nada – since Dec. 7 when 0.15 of an inch fell. Chances are very good that we could see a rainless January here in Central California.

An online article published by SF Gate, which is not labeled “opinion,” writes this: “Yes, 2013 was the driest year in California on record. Yes, scant rain has fallen this winter, but historically, California receives most of its rain and runoff between January and April. We have weeks to go before the real worry should set in.”

Thank you for recognizing what was obviously not on the Governor’s mind when he made his drought declaration.

Want access to the very latest in agricultural news each day? Sign up for the Western Farm Press Daily e-mail newsletter.

There are more problems with the facts and premises of the SF Gate article than common sense can stand. Sadly, people eat this stuff up and vote accordingly.

For starters, California’s runoff technically comes much later than the January-to-April timeframe mentioned if we have a good snow season and the snowpack stays put until late spring or early summer, but we’ll let that one slide since snow is apparently as rare as common sense among some Bay Area writers.

Then there’s this ridiculous question from the article: “Does it make economic sense to drop environmental protections to move around more water?” One premise behind this is that human beings are the lowest forms of life on the environmental totem pole. The other premise is the economy doesn’t matter. Both are false.

Ask the growers in California’s Westlands Water District how economically viable their farms are with 0 percent water to grow the estimated 60 crops they produce. Fallowing their land does not stop the tax payments from being due to Fresno or Kings County coffers.

Then there’s this bit of hyperbole: “But so far, no one except for the San Joaquin Valley growers and their advocates, is using the ‘d’ word.”

Really? Rice growers in the Sacramento Valley aren’t worried that a “Shasta critical year” could reduce rice acreage and their ability to farm? The City of Sacramento and neighboring suburbs are not worried about drought – let’s use the word rather than be coy about it – as Folsom Reservoir reaches historic lows because flows in the American River have all but ceased?

My concern isn’t for those writing such ridiculous pieces as they sip their imported bottles of expensive water. My concern is for those who fall for the factual lies and false premises spread by such yellow journalism.

Since it’s too early to worry about water, the magnanimous thing for San Francisco to do would be to pull the plug on O’Shaughnessy Dam and transfer all its Hetch Hetchy water to Westlands Water District. By doing so the Sierra Club would get the glacial valley back that John Muir fought unsuccessfully to protect and San Francisco could get many of sniveling farmers they so dislike to shut up and stop complaining about this imaginary drought.


Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.