California agriculture cannot afford to be lulled to sleep
The snow is deep in the Sierras, the reservoirs throughout the state are full and the rivers are running faster than they have in years. But California agriculture and those who truly understand the dilemma surrounding the future of its water, must work harder than ever to create a comprehensive plan that addresses the needs of California’s users for the next 50 to 100 years.
We use these inches this month to petition California’s ag community to immediately organize an aggressive statewide water agenda and begin what will be a long, but absolutely necessary process; repairing, upgrading, expanding and securing the water infrastructure of the state.
In this year of abundant snow pack and stored water we need to be ever more vigilant in our efforts to get a plan on the table that looks at the needs and demands of a thirsty state, whose thirst for more and safer water supplies will only increase. The plan needs to be comprehensive. It must include expanded storage, better transportation systems and even alternate transportation systems for water from areas of surplus to areas of deficit.
The plan must be committed to resolve the issues that surround the Sacramento Delta including needed repair of existing infrastructure. A review and plan must make needed improvements to protect the delta from manmade and natural disasters that can be a factor going forward. Earthquakes, high tides, a tsunami even the threat of
bioterrorism must be addressed in this long-term planning.
The plan should include means for expanded storage to take advantage of water surplus years like 2010 and 2011. Recharge and protection of the underground aquifer must also be part of a well-organized and effective solutions-driven program.
Involvement of each impacted region and industry is a must. Organizations and special interests who represent the players in the state need to be included in the discussion,
planning and implementation process. Short and long-term needs of water users from throughout the state must be factored in, including residential users, industrial demands, the needs of agriculture in various regions, and the growing demand from cities and municipalities. Finally, it will require the planners to successfully work with the many state and federal governmental agencies that will have an influence.
Lastly, the plan must include aggressive education and implementation of water conservation programs that involve every citizen, business, and industry in the state. Water conservation can and will become one of the most important tools used by the state to ensure that the vital needs of every user in the state are met now and in the future.
Every citizen must be educated and involved in the caring for and preserving of this very important natural resource. There is more than enough for all, but we must manage the resources we have far better than we have in the past. Education and innovation is the key to making what we have, meet the ever-growing needs of every sector of the state.
In the end, we are missing true leadership and we are in dire need of it. This missing link has affected every sector of the state, especially agriculture. We must assign our strongest and brightest to tackle this process and it needs to begin now. We cannot wait another year, another decade. The solutions will literally take decades to complete, which means it is imperative to start the planning process, adoption of a plan and begin implementation in the shortest possible time.
We don’t have two decades for sure. We may not even have years. Heaven forbid we were to be impacted further by extended drought, earthquakes or other natural disasters. We must be prepared to learn from what we witnessed in Northern Japan. Who could have imagined that such devastation was possible?
What most people don’t realize is the scope of worldwide impact that type of devastation would have if this state’s fragile water system were compromised, even temporarily. Especially the Sacramento Delta, not to mention the possible impact on dams, water storage and power production, if such an event were to occur here.
Everyone needs to realize that the impact would not be limited to 10-20 percent of the food needed to feed one country. It would mean the lost ability to produce the food in quantities the world has grown accustomed to. It would not just impact all of our 33 million citizens it but would dramatically impact the food supply and the cost of food paid by consumers in every corner of the world.
We must do everything we can to minimize the potential impact of such predictable events. Not that we can predict when, but we do know they will happen, sooner or later. It is just a matter of when.
Being well prepared because of our planning and doing prior to this potential catastrophic event can make all the difference. We can plan, we can get started, we can get it done, if we have what it takes to lead and lead now, at this critical juncture of time and need.
Vision and leadership; The time is now. The job is ours. The responsibility is clear.
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