If allowing water to be used for crops is bad, try eating apples produced in Cupertino
Salinity levels at Vernalis south of Manteca wouldn’t be so high if those Hypocrites-by-the Bay among those in the Green Environmental Perfection movement did their fair share to protect the fish.
Since the 1920s, the city of San Francisco and the towns it supplies around the Bay Area have been depriving fish of water. Meanwhile, they brag about their pristine drinking water while lecturing everyone from Los Angeles residents to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley about how they harm fish for their own needs.
Not an ounce of the approximately 220 million gallons of Tuolumne River water that the Bay Area consumes daily ever flows into the San Joaquin River and the Delta.
Instead, it enters the original tunnel bypassing the Delta—the Hetch Hetchy Pipeline—which runs under Modesto, through the Valley, and into the Bay Area.
This means that when green movement groups in the Bay Area advocate for more water for fish, it never affects the water flowing from their faucets, filling their pools or watering their lawns.
They could easily join the rest of us, including Los Angeles, and do their fair share of helping fish by releasing their drinking water directly into the Tuolumne from the O’Shaughnessy Dam that flooded the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park and let it flow into the San Joaquin River and into the delta to help fish.
They could then extract the water from the delta and send it to their treatment plants.
Rather than do the right thing they ask everyone else, the Hypocrites-by-the-Bay instead launch a full-scale attack on the farmers.
They argue that farmers are not doing their part to reduce water use and therefore harming fish and making urban users suffer. It’s funny, but in 2014, during the last drought, when Bay Area dot.com millionaires had their driveways washed and their $120,000 Teslas hand-washed while pocketing tax credits, the San Joaquin Valley farmers ripped up orchards and left fields fallow while putting more people out of work because they didn’t receive water to grow crops.
Yes, the people of the Bay Area are absolutely awesome. That said, let’s see them survive eating apples grown in Cupertino as opposed to apples grown in San Joaquin County or perhaps eating Chipolte burritos produced using 3D printers.
Contrary to the myth passed down by the Hypocrites-by-the-Bay, agriculture does not currently consume 80% of all developed surface water in California.
A University of California-Davis study by Blaine Hanson of agricultural crop irrigation in California indicates that in a dry year with reduced deliveries from the State Water Project and Central Valley Project, agriculture uses 52% of total water supply, up from 80% previously. in a normal year. In a wet year, agriculture receives 29% of the water.
Meanwhile, urban use remains at 10.9%. And guess what doesn’t get reduced in a dry year? Flows into the Delta and out to the ocean are comparatively intact, although Mother Nature would have all but eliminated them by now if left to her own devices.
California produces about half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts harvested in the United States. Farmers in this state feed a lot of people. An Apple Watch is a need while food is a basic need.
But even setting aside the most basic argument defending agricultural water use, there is the small detail of what Mother Nature would do with fish and river flows if left to her own devices. .
If dams had not been put in place, we could not have built three massive metropolitan areas on the arid coast centered around San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego over the past 160 years. Nor would the San Joaquin Valley have been transformed into the most productive agricultural region in the world.
And the fish wouldn’t have fared as well as they did.
Without New Melones, as well as Beardsley and Donnells, which retained snowpack runoff from previous years, there would have been no minimum flow in the Stanislaus River last summer.
While the Hypocrites-by-the-Bay argue that it’s anemic, it’s downright robust compared to the flow that would have been on the Stanislaus River in October last year during the chinook salmon migration if it didn’t there were no roadblocks.
Chances are it wouldn’t even have been a trickle at Ripon and probably would have been so dry near the confluence with the San Joaquin River that the winds would have kicked up dust storms from the dried bottom silt.
We must protect the environment and the fish. No reasonable person would argue this point. But we also have to grow food and make sure the toilets flush.
In fact, since the first major drought in the past 50 years in 1976-77, urban users and farmers have drastically reduced their water consumption. Los Angeles in 1977 used more water per capita than most people in the Upstate now have per capita water use 10% less than Manteca and just over half of what each resident of Ripon uses.
There are many ways to reduce water consumption, most based on the realization that we have always lived in an arid state.
But pushing a program that wants to hurt agriculture even more because it takes a lot of water to grow our food is like amputating your legs and arms because your little finger is bleeding.
It’s a surefire way to kill yourself.
This column is the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at [email protected]