In a typical year the California agricultural industry uses about 34 million acre-feet of water or more than 80% of the developed water consumed by urban and agricultural users in the state. Between 30% and 50% of that water is used to grow four low value, water-intensive crops: cotton, rice, alfalfa and irrigated pasture.I'd like to have a source on the water consumption of those four crops. Besides that, all these figures match my understanding.
Those four low value, water-intensive crops contributed about $2.5 billion to California's economy in 2005. All of California agricultural production was about $32 billion in 2005. Gross state product in 2005 was about $1.62 trillion. Thus, the contribution of all agriculture to the state's economy was just under 2% of gross state product (1.975 %)and the contribution of cotton, rice, alfalfa and irrigated pasture was an infinitesimal 0.15 of 1% (fifteen one-hundredths of one percent). Westlands claims an annual gross in excess of a billion dollars which would be considerably less if all the public subsidies were factored in (cheap water, power subsidies, crop subsidies, interest free construction loan). Westlands is not even a blip on the state economy's radar screen, only about three percent of California's farm gross and a tiny, tiny fraction of one percent of the state's whole economy.
Bottom Line: If there was a functioning water market, we'd be getting more value from our water.
Addendum: Carter's post today (lies and dam lies) is awesome. He takes apart pro-dam comments by Schwarzenegger and others, with footnotes.