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Old 08-19-2014   #15
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West’s historic drought stokes fears of water crisis

In still other areas, aquifers are emptying so quickly that the land itself is subsiding, like cereal in a bowl after the milk has drained out.

“How many straws can you stick into one glass?” asked John Viegas, a county supervisor who, after months of fielding complaints from constituents about water shortages, recently was forced to lower his own well by 40 feet. “People need to realize you can’t water everything.”


“A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account,” Howitt said. “We’re acting like the super rich who have so much money they don’t need to balance their checkbook.”
It is worth to point out that those aquifers have been formed in many, many years.

Yet, agriculture’s huge appetite for water makes it an easy target for state officials looking for ways to conserve. Irrigation accounts for 41 percent of the state’s water use, compared with 9 percent for urban water systems. And the recent shift to crops such as alfalfa and rice has prompted questions about whether this drought-prone region is suited for water-intensive agriculture.
Looks like a classic market failure with water not being priced nearly high enough with most of the public infrastructure effectively subventioning the farmers heavily. This gave bad incentives and resulted in high private investments into the wrong crops/assets.

Now of course California Water Prices Soar for Farmers as Drought Grows .

Farmers in California’s Central Valley, the world’s most productive agricultural region, are paying as much as 10 times more for water than they did before the state’s record drought cut supply.

Costs have soared to $1,100 per acre-foot from about $140 a year ago in the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, which represents 700 farms, said Gayle Holman, a spokeswoman. North of Sacramento, the Western Canal Water District is selling it for double the usual price: $500 per acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons (1.2 million liters).
Last but not least a key Californian advantage over many other areas:

Lund said he believes Californians are more capable of adjusting, compared with people in other water-challenged parts of the world, because they already possess experience and expertise and “because we happen to be rich, which helps.”
... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935
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