Food Chain Radio News
Food Chain Radio Show #1092
Michael Olson, Author & Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Guest: Danny Merkley, Director of Water Resources, California Farm Bureau & Bill Wattenburg, PhD, Engineer, Radio Host, Senior Research Scientist Research Foundation, California State University, Chico
Will California have enough water to grow the nation’s food?
In California, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting!”
Over the years there has been a lot of fighting for water in California, and as a consequence, it now flows uphill, for hundreds of miles!
It took a lot of money and engineering to dam and plumb the state, but that effort made possible the growth of one half the nation’s fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a huge percentage of its dairy.
The fighting has never let up, and in fact is more intense than ever, with agriculture now contending with cities and wildlife for every last drop.
Then, right in the middle of all that fighting, the state’s crown-jewell of a dam literally burst its seems.
The Oroville Dam, at 770 feet the nation’s tallest, provides drinking water to more than two-thirds of California’s population.
Runoff from recent drought-busting rains filled the dam to overflowing, thus putting at risk the dam’s auxiliary overflow wall. Then, when engineers increased the flow at the floodgates to compensate, the spillway failed. The extent of the trouble was made clear for all when authorities ordered the evacuation of the 200,000 people who live below the dam.
The near failure of the Oroville Dam, and the on-going and ever intensifying fight for the state’s water, leads us to ask….