Sunday, March 1, 2009
Emergency declaration shows continuing idea drought
With rain falling in Northern California and more expected through Thursday, it is hard to imaging a worse time for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare a drought emergency and call for mandatory rationing. Yet that's exactly what he did last week in the third year of below-normal precipitation in the Golden State, according to the Reuters international news service . Schwarzenegger warned that as many as 95,000 agricultural jobs could be lost if the lack of rain forces farmers in the state's Central Valley to curtain spring planting. "California faces its third consecutive year of drought and we must prepare for the worst -- a fourth, fifth or even sixth year of drought," Schwarzenegger said in a statement released by his office, adding that recent storms were not enough to repair the problem. Schwarzenegger called on cities to cut consumption by 20 percent and for state agencies to implement a water use reduction plan. But let's review -- this is the third year of drought, not the first, yet state agencies don't have use reduction plans? Why? Because the lately unpopular Republican governor and former action movie star wants to promote dam construction, despite the Western trend toward removing dams to restore wild fisheries. California's smelt and salmon populations have crashed and with it the state's multibillion-dollar fishing industry, because the state government refuses to acquire more access to water from states that have it or limit the use of water by inefficient farming operations. California products more than half of the nation's fruits, vegetables and nuts, and farmers panic when cutbacks in subsidized irrigation water are discussed. But that may be exactly what is necessary until new supplies are arranged or more rainfall is in the forecast.