California’s Water Mismanagement Leads to Farming Crossroads

Written by: Andrew Morris

California’s recent extreme droughts have created a new need among farmers for less water-consuming crops. The problem comes as more than 70,000 farms are being restricted on water usage resulting in decreased production capacity.

According to experts, agriculture uses four times more water than residential users, decreasing budgets and ever depleting water reserves throughout California. Additionally, the most recent drought is a “different breed” from what has been seen in the past.

The last drought took more than three years to peak and conclude, allowing farmers to prepare for the shift in the water supply. This one, however, has already peaked at the two-year mark, meaning the once abundant reserves are being depleted faster than ever.

“This is different from the last drought. What’s changed is how fast things are happening,” states UC Davis associate professor Sam Sandoval Solis. “The reality is we have reached a point where we are using more water than is available in California,” he stated. “This is nothing new. We’re living beyond our means. It breaks my heart.” Solis, a specialist in agriculture, advises farmers on water management to get through crippling shortages.

In light of these problems (with no apparent help from our Governor), scientists have taken an alternative route to stabilize agricultural deficits. Professors like Pat J. Brown of UC Davis have been researching plants that require less water when exposed to irregular situations. Specifically, Brown and his colleagues have been experimenting with pistachio trees and an increased saline solution. Scientists were delighted that their work did not kill a single tree, suggesting that growers someday may be able to use briny water, not just scarce freshwater, to irrigate orchards.

Due to the Democrat majority of California’s mismanagement in water, farmers now craft their own efficient needs to supply water to their crops. What should be a state responsibility is left for the farmers to handle, resulting in many agriculture businesses going under due to the funds they have to invest to ensure their crops will grow.


Photo from: The New York Times