Water storage must be a priority

By From page A6 | July 24, 2014

It will take a variety of strategies to meet California water needs — not just conservation. While Sunday’s Another View editorial calls for stronger conservation measures and highlights agriculture as the largest user of “developed” water, it fails to recognize that many farmers in the state already face 100 percent shortages — receiving no water at all from their water suppliers.

During drought, farmers get hit first and hardest. We are seeing crops being lost, hundreds of thousands of acres of land left idle and thousands of people thrown out of work.

This is happening despite strong, ongoing efficiency improvements. California farmers and ranchers have roughly doubled their crop production during the last 45 years while using roughly the same amount of water.

While efficiency should always be encouraged, a University of California watershed specialist wrote recently that it’s a myth to believe conservation will provide vast quantities of new water. California must focus on positive longer-term policies that include investing in water storage, which will provide added flexibility during droughts and help stabilize our economy.

Paul Wenger
President, California Farm Bureau Federation, Sacramento

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