Food Chain Radio News
Food Chain Radio Show #980
Michael Olson, Author & Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Farming in the Great California Drought
Guest: Michael Marsh, Executive Director, Western United Dairymen
The Golden State of California is suffering through its third year of severe drought, and like a plum drying in the sun, is shriveling up into a prune of a state.
This shriveling up into a prune of a state is not meant to be taken in the figurative sense, it is meant to be taken literally– as in California really is shriveling up!
The State’s lakes, reservoirs, rivers and aquifers are evaporating into mere memory. As a consequence, land in its great Central Valley is subsiding at the rate of one foot per year, as more and more wells are drilled deeper and deeper to suck more and more water out of Valley’s aquifers.
The hope, of course, is rain will fall this winter, and the State’s seemingly ceaseless subsidence will cease. But maybe not! Tree ring history dating back a thousand years documents numerous California droughts of 10 to 20 years, and– get this– two megadroughts, one of 240 years and one of 180 years!
If water was like money, California could simply steal more from its children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. But water is not like money. If water is not available, the State can’t steal it from its future.
What little water California has left must now be divided up by all those who want it, including the State’s cities, its wildlife, and its farmers. And so we pause to ask…