May 8 2014
An old adage goes: “Water flows uphill to money”. And it was never truer than now as agri-business lobbies to get the last drop of water out of the ground in the sinking Central Valley to grow thirsty crops sold overseas.
“Associated Press 05/06/2014 03:31:25 PM PDT By Garance Burke SAN FRANCISCO — Water has flowed from Northern California’s snow-capped peaks to the south’s parched cities ever since the California Aqueduct was built in the 1960s. Now, amid one of the worst droughts in history, state officials are considering an audacious plan to send some of the water back uphill. State water engineers say using pumps to reverse the flow of the aqueduct would be a first in a drought. It would also be a complex engineering challenge, requiring millions of dollars to defy gravity.”
In the midst of this drought, acreage is actually increasing. Does this make any sense at all? And we are actually literally shipping our water to China. “California pistachio production has increased 136% over the last 10 years, largely due to new plantings in the Central Valley. Acreage increased from 83,000 acres in 2002 to 178,000 in 2012. Pistachio trees have a long establishment period; they get their first deliverable crop in the sixth year after planting – three years later than almonds. With 60% of the U.S. crop now exported, U.S. pistachio producers follow international market developments as closely as domestic ones. The most important export market has traditionally been Europe; however, two years ago, China overtook the EU as the largest importer of U.S. pistachios. This was a shocking development because as recently as 2008, China’s pistachio imports were only one-third as large as the EU’s. China and Hong Kong now import 27% of U.S. pistachios.”
And where is the water coming from to pump into the California Aqueduct? From wells in Kern County. There is over 1220 square miles of the Central Valley that is sinking due to withdrawal of well water. Land in California’s Central Valley is sinking. The US Geological Survey has released a study showing the extent of the problem.The area of sinking land is much larger than originally believed.
And who benefits from this scheme to drain California of this life-giving water? As the project awaits final approval, water districts are already ordering pumps and making arrangements to get diesel engines. Nearly half the water Dudley Ridge hopes to receive would irrigate the orchards of Paramount Farms, owned by Los Angeles billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who produce POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and Wonderful pistachios. If it doesn’t rain much next winter, the districts might seek to continue pumping the water backward in years to come, Melville said.
The refrain goes on for urban water users.conserve, don’t let the water run while you are brushing your teeth; take fewer showers; don’t wash your cars in the street, etc, etc.
Meanwhile millions and millions of gallons of water are poured on Central Valley pistachios shipped overseas to China along with the water it took to grow them. The moral of this story is that water really does flow uphill to money, defying the law of gravity and common sense.
By Milt Burgess • Blog • 0 • Tags: augmentation, Colorado River, conservation, dry centuries, El Nino, La Nina, potable, precipitation, rainfall, SDCWA, State Water Project, water rates, wet centuries