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SPRING 2011

A Broken System

An airplane flight over the Central Valley in recent weeks would probably reveal how much water has actually passed through our backyards and continued out to sea. The water comes at a time when California’s agricultural economy could use a boost, but fuel prices may hinder huge gains. One of the most interesting parts of the whole situation is that while our snowpack sits at 160 percent of normal; not all water contractors are getting 100 percent of their water allocations.

Westside San Joaquin valley farmers just got their water allocation bumped up to 75 percent. While a true blessing after what the Westside has endured over the past few years; it illustrates how broken our water infrastructure is. State water contractors have seen water allocations rise to 70 percent in recent weeks.
Consequently, millions of Californians will still face water restrictions and agricultural land will continue to be fallowed due to water supply cutbacks, as millions of acre feet of water are released from area reservoirs. While there are numerous reasons for the water supply cutbacks, such as environmental regulations and inadequate infrastructure, the situation could not have come at a better time to accurately portray the deficiencies in our infrastructure.

The time for a comprehensive overhaul of our system is now. The cost of doing nothing is far greater than the investment in our future. A reliable water supply for all water users is long past due and creating a solution that forces one water user to lose is not a solution at all. While the investment may be great, the time could not be more perfect. ■

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