Yesterday, High Country News published an in-depth look at California water issues. The story covers a lot of ground: from how Westlands Water District was formed, to the effects of drought on Westlands’ farmers today, and the effects of toxic water draining off of their farms; from right wing efforts to blame the Endangered Species Act for the drought, to the fact that unsustainable water operations led to the closure of the State’s salmon fishery. The author also writes about how the recent state water policy legislation and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan may fit into the jigsaw puzzle of reforming California’s water system.
This article is quite a contrast to some of the recent one sided media coverage of these issues. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, but inevitably, I found a few things to quibble about. For instance, I wish the author would have interviewed some commercial fishermen, and/or fishing businesses, to share their personal stories of how the fishery closure has affected them, to compliment his interviews with Central Valley farmers. And I wish he’d mention the record or near-record levels of tomatoes, rice, and other crops that were grown in California last year, despite the drought, or the other large water districts in the San Joaquin Valley that got 100% of their supplies last year.
But overall, I think it’s a pretty fair look at the complicated issues involved in California water. For those looking for a fair and balanced perspective on these issues (rather than just a slogan), it’s a good read.