The first listed idea, concerning water use in agriculture, of the two environmentalists writing in the Sacramento Bee is a good one—the rest not so good—and because they fail to mention building new dams for more water storage, their arguments are too short-sighted to constitute sound policy prescriptions.
California has reached “peak water.” We’ve far exceeded the limits of our renewable and sustainable supply. The current severe drought has highlighted these limits and shown us the stark reality of a water system in need of new thinking, new strategies and new answers.
New research, however, shows that we can expand California’s water system by a staggering 11 million to 14 million acre-feet of water annually – more water than is used today by all the cities in the state combined. That’s enough water to revive the collapsing Delta ecosystem, bring our groundwater into balance and satisfy the needs of our agricultural communities, growing population and economy.
We know the problems. Cities, farms and ecosystems vie for limited supplies. The state suffers from a water deficit in excess of 6 million acre-feet (2.3 trillion gallons) each year, even when we’re not in drought. That amount is unsustainably drawn from two of the state’s primary natural water sources: groundwater and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watersheds. Groundwater overdraft and uncontrolled and unmonitored pumping pit neighbor against neighbor. And water-exporting and water-importing regions point the finger at each other for profligate water use….
• Improve water-use productivity in agriculture. By expanding adoption of modern irrigation technologies and practices, farmers can reduce agricultural water use by 17 to 22 percent (around 5.6 million to 6.6 million acre-feet annually) without sacrificing revenue or crop production – a big savings in a sector that uses about 80 percent of California’s developed water supply.
Retrieved June 10, 2014 from http://www.sacbee.com/2014/06/10/6470411/viewpoints-california-can-expand.html