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Water supply and jobs
Water Supply and food security

Have you heard recently on the radio about California’s water supply crisis and the devastating impacts water supply cuts are having on the people and communities that depend on farming for their livelihoods?  The following statement by Dan Nelson, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority describes the dire situation many people face this year.

Today’s announcement by the United States underscores just how broken California’s water system is.  No water deliveries this year from the federal Central Valley Project to our farmers will deepen the already terrible economic situation in our San Joaquin Valley and have a rippling effect that will extend through California and into the nation.  Less food will be grown and fewer jobs will be available as farmers leave their lands fallow.  Inactivity on the farm will impact demand for otherwise necessary products and services, further depressing our communities, some of which are among the poorest in the country. Estimates from UC Davis economists indicate up to 80,000 jobs will be lost and $1.6-2.2 billion will disappear from the economy in the San Joaquin Valley alone because of the reduced water supplies this year.  Along with the economic decline will come incalculable social consequences.

Though the drought is contributing to this gloomy outlook, the magnitude of the cutback is amplified by our dysfunctional regulatory and water supply systems.  We have had droughts before but never have the effects been so dire.  When this drought breaks, we will still have water shortages in California until we fix our storage, conveyance and management systems.  In the meantime, while we cannot control Mother Nature, there are actions that can be taken now to more efficiently manage the constraints placed upon our water supply system in order to protect endangered species.  We must recognize that this unprecedented human suffering highlights the need to rebalance the use of water for human and environmental purposes
“California’s water system was built years ago when California’s population was only half of what it is today.  This delivery system was never intended to serve an ever growing population, provide adequate supplies of water to our farms and meet expanding environmental obligations. Again, lawmakers and regulators must step forward to modernize our infrastructure by increasing reservoir storage, improving conveyance and improving how we manage our limited water supply.”

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