Jun 22 2015
“Moving to where the water is” – is a frequent phrase used in the Water Shock blogs. A case in point is the water war currently being waged in Cochise County, Arizona between long time Arizona farmers and newly arrived California farmers who have come to Cochise County where the aquifers underlying the county are not subject to pumping restrictions.
Not unlike Oklahoma farmers in the 1930’s who traveled west to verdant California, now Central Valley farmers are moving in the opposite direction to places like Cochise County. Neither state is a tax haven, so the principle driver has to be water.
The dispute is detailed in a recent article in the Arizona Daily Star by Tony Davis titled “Cochise Water Dispute Fans Fierce Rivalries”. Rainfall is scarce, so irrigation is dependent upon pumping groundwater from the aquifer 1500 feet below the County. How this will all end is anybody’s guess. The legal battles may go on for years.
Mark Twain was right when he said, “Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over”.
In comparison to San Diego County, California where annual rainfall averages 10.7 inches, Cochise County, Arizona gets between 10.0 and 11.7 inches. The major difference is Cochise has an aquifer that can be pumped (like the Central Valley in California).
We have seen what happens when groundwater is over pumped. Both in Arizona and California land subsidence is the eventual result as wells go deeper and deeper. But this is America, the land of opportunity and private property. Doesn’t owning a section of land in Cochise County give the owner the right to do what they want with the property? That is at the center of the dispute. And the expanding enormous market for tree nuts in China is the major impetus.
Regulation of US fisheries, of timber, of sport hunting of wildlife, of rivers and streams and other natural resources has become necessary when commercial interests are out of control. The same has to happen with over pumping of groundwater placed there tens of thousands, maybe millions of years ago.
Except for the capital costs of drilling a well, and the energy used to bring water to the surface, ground water is essentially free. “Going to where the water is” does not mean moving operations from one over pumping location to another. It means following the trail of where there is sufficient natural precipitation to provide the twenty to twenty-two inches necessary to grow crops (and tree nuts).
By Milt Burgess • Blog • 0 • Tags: augmentation, California Aqueduct, Colorado River, conservation, dry centuries, El Nino, La Nina, MWD, precipitation, purification, purple pipe, rainfall, residential water user, SDCWA, State Water Project, water districts, water rate hike, water rates, water Storage, wet centuries