The 800 lb. gorilla is the absolute fact that there is NO WATER SHORTAGE IN CALIFORNIA!! I can hear you saying that must be wrong because we constantly hear about the need to take three minute showers with friends to save water. While three minute showers may be wonderful, as well as maybe a yard full of cactus, all of that change in behavior will not affect the water situation in California in any significant way.He goes on to offer seven "facts" that everyone should know about water use in California (paraphrased):
The actual fact is that there is an abundant supply of water in California, but that water is being incredibly badly used. The reason for this extraordinary miss-use of water in California is that water is priced very badly. The reasons for this inappropriate pricing go back a century, or more. While that pricing was right for its time, it is flat wrong now 100+ years later and is the primary cause of California’s “Water Problem”. Appropriate pricing is the complete and total solution to California’s “Water Problem”.
- Ag uses 80 percent of water.
- Farmers grow low-value crops with it. (Alfalfa uses
2015 percent of ag water. The alfalfa goes to cows, true, but cow shit pollutes groundwater.)
- Farmers pay very little for water ($17/AF in Imperial Valley) while urbanites pay $1,200/AF.
- Farmers will adjust to expensive water by using less -- just as they adjusted to expensive corn by growing more.
- If the price of ag water rose, farmers' costs would rise, but they could be compensated with grants or loans to improve irrigation efficiencies.
- This point is worth quoting in full:
This proposal will be greeted with cries of outrage that we are forcing the little guy off the farm. And that is, of course, utter and absolute nonsense. The overwhelming majority of agriculture in California is produced by a handful of gigantic agricultural corporations. In fact, the 2002 Census of Agriculture shows that about 6% of all California farms produced 78% of the total value of California agriculture. And all of those farms were $1,000,000 businesses, or larger.
The cries of outrage won’t come from farmers; they will come from corporate lawyers and lobbyists! Ignore them.
- Long-term contracts can be bought out. (They will have to be bought out eventually anyway.)