The Sad State Of California – A Glimpse Into The Future

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So, the end of the agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley has begun. As most know, due to both lousy Federal environmental regulation, incredibly idiotic and short sighted California water management, a state legislative body who is completely mesmerized by their own self importance and are completely incapable of making any hard decisions, and a nice, but not uncommon three year drought, farms on the west side of the valley are one by one going out of business because they can’t get enough water to sustain their crops. Now, due to more environmental regulations, the east side of the valley will face the same situation next year. As of yesterday, the flood gate of the Friant Dam have been opened permanently in order to restore permanent water flow to the San Joaquin River, which will in theory in turn restore the salmon back to the region. Of course, this will mean farms and cities in this area, including my hometown of Fresno, will almost certainly face severe water shortages in the next growing year. If we have a wetter than usual winter, we might not see the effects of this action right away. But anyone who live in the valley knows that droughts are a naturally occurring phenomenon in this region.

If you want to see how this sad situation might end up, I turn your attention to the situation facing the Klamath region of Oregon and California. For those that don’t remember, in a nutshell, in 2001 the Feds shut off the water supply to farmers in the Klamath Valley in order to try and save the salmon run in the Klamath river. Farmers lost their crops that year. The next year, the water was turned back on, but the seeds were sown for further action. Now both governors of the states of California and Oregon and the power company that owns the dams that divert the rivers, have signed an agreement that require the removal of water storing dams in the region by 2020. No word on how this will effect agriculture. Since California is completely apoplectic when it comes to building electricity producing facilities of its own. it buys energy from other states to supplement its energy needs. Since the state requires X amount of energy to be “green”, some of that energy comes from the “green” hydro-electric dams that will be torn down. Expect energy prices to continue to rise dramatically in the state.

If dam removal in another state, in order to restore salmon, does not seem to concern you – wake up! There are already calls for the removal of the Hetch Hetchy Dam in order to restore the salmon of the Tuolome River. For those who don’t know, Hetch Hetch water system provides water to San Francisco. Environmental leaning Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are huge supporters of the environmental movement, and have supported the removal of dams in other parts of the country, but steadfastly refuse to consider the same solution when it affects their own constituents. I suspect this will in time become a story of the dogs biting the hands that fed it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-fish, nor am I a blind Hannity follower. I recognize the complex twists and turns to this story. I want the rivers to flow freely again, and have salmon once again running up our streams and rivers. I would be absolutely thrilled to see my local river flowing again, eradicating forever the dry gulch that I drive over every day, and it would be a joy to see those fish swimming upstream to do their business. The problem is that this is being done in such a hap hazard manner, with little in the way of planning as to mitigate the effect on our economies and our lives.

Anyway, I hope this all turns out well in the end, but given the paralyzed nature of California government, I doubt it.