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Being from California, I am well aware of the water crisis. Whenever my family drives up north, we have to pass through farm country. This land houses a variety of production such as cow ranches, lemon and lime orchards, and fields of almost every berry. However, there were two common things throughout the drive—constant water being sprinkled over these areas and signs along the road calling for changes in the water policy legislation.  At least in Central California, water really is just as valuable as blood.

 

While these areas do not possess the necessary water to sustain the farming, California agriculture is too vital to be discontinued.  While many see the Golden State as a place with perfect weather and virtually no seasons, it is actually drier than most would believe.  As Tracie McMillan discovered in her time in the peach orchards, the irrigation used to supply the water to foster growth has detrimental effects on the ecosystem.  Areas like Central Valley have a high concentration of salt and minerals that  “filters down into the aquifer—taking fertilizers and other chemicals used in agriculture along with it—it can contaminate drinking water, too” (McMillan 144).  With a heavy reliance on foreign water, farming on poor soil then puts that water into other sources where it cannot be utilized.  While this may be considered a price, irrigation does generate some benefits.  According to the National Crop Insurance Services, not only does California supply “more than half of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts,” it also earns “more than $47.9 billion” each year because of this production.  It is obvious why there are groups and people that are very against any move for change.  Although irrigation has its negative impacts in the long run, it is viewed as a necessary undertaking in order to continue the production to fuel Americans and California’s economy.

 

For me, it has always seemed like California has been in a drought.  While residents have been urged to conserve their supply, farmers are calling for increased access for their crops.  The biggest question to ask ourselves is what happens when all the water runs out?

 

Discussion Questions:

The land was altered and developed for the farming; are the environmental reasons enough to justify moving the production to a more water abundant place?

 

With the proposed partition of California into 6 separate states, how  do you think this will impact farming, irrigation, and legislation?

 

Sources:

http://www.cropinsuranceinamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/california1.pdf

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