In California, water is money. Really. I say that because if you are not from California, you might not really understand that. I, a California native, still remember trying to explain to some people from the area we Angelenos generally refer to as “back east” which is pretty much east of the Missispi River, or even east of the Utah state line, that the movie “Chinatown” was about the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. People from areas where crops get watered by rain falling from the sky don’t always understand that people might be willing to commit murder to obtain water rights.
Anyway, out west, water is scarce. The difference between verdant fields bursting with fruits and vegetables and desert is irrigation. Farmers pretty much can’t survive without it here. And, contrary to the beliefs of a lot of people not from California, agriculture here is a 54 Billion dollar business. This one state is responsible for almost 15% of U. S. agricultural exports
One of the major geographical areas responsible for the output is the central valley of California. Fresno, Bakersfield, Salinas, Stockton, Merced, these are all towns that cater to the farming community. If you decide to drive from Los Angeles to Sacramento (our state capital) or San Francisco, you will drive through hundreds of miles of farms on both sides of the I-5 highway. And if you have done that in the past 10 years you will see sign after sign pleading with you to do something about the insane EPA regulations which are depriving California farms of the water they need to grow their crops. It is an issue which crosses political lines. Democrats and Republicans alike plead to turn the water back on.
California, thanks in part to the present governor’s father, there is a large and complex system of canals and water storage in California. If you look at a map you will see that there is a mountain range running along the eastern border of the state, the Sierra Nevada mountains. That mountain range acts like a giant water harvester. Clouds laden with water bump up against that mountain range and dump a huge amount of precipitation in the form of snow in most winters This is why California has many world class ski resorts like Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain. When I say huge I’m talking about annual snowfall some where in the 20 to thirty feet range. Yes, feet. So much snow falls on the Sierra Nevadas most years that several highways crossing the Sierras are closed to traffic each year because it is impractical and dangerous to even try to clear them. Because, like I said, twenty to thirty feet of snow.
When that snow melts in the spring and summer part of it drains to the west into the American, San Joaquin and other rivers and is captured in reservoirs in the central valley and part drains to the east and, believe it or not, flows down the Owens valley to the east and south to Los Angeles where it is stored and provides a substantial part of the Los Angeles water supply.
Now enter the EPA. The EPA has decided that millions of gallons of that stored fresh water in the Central Valley must be released into the rivers to flow out to the San Francisco bay in order to save the snail darter, a small fish. Victor Davis Hansen, a respected Classics scholar and conservative writer, is also a farmer in the central valley. He has written about this issue here, here and here..
Because it is the EPA which is behind the water diversion, this is a federal issue, but California’s two senators, bowing to the liberal coastal elites who fancy themselves committed environmental crusaders have done exactly nothing to solve this problem. Whichever candidate addresses this issue and promises to do something to solve this problem by adopting reasonable regulations stands a good chance to win California not just in the primary but maybe even (fingers crossed) in the fall.