From Courage Campaign
More than half of the country’s produce comes from California, where an epic drought threatens to become a national crisis. If people like you in Oregon and across the country don’t start demanding action right now, the consequences to our nation’s food supply could be catastrophic. We’re talking about the water supply for 90% of the country’s artichokes, kiwis, garlic, and wine — GONE unless CA’s leaders act fast.
Water allocation has bedeviled California since before it was even a state, but RIGHT NOW this crisis provides a historic opportunity to finally develop an equitable, environmentally sound approach that balances CA’s water use with its realistic water supply, and continue to provide fresh produce for the nation. That means:
- ending the potentially catastrophic overuse of CA groundwater,
- halting the poisoning of CA aquifers via fracking,
- revoking permits to bottle precious spring water,
- and ensuring the long-term health of CA’s agriculture industry by ending Big Agriculture’s irresponsible and unsustainable use of land and choice of crops.
Even in the wettest of years, California promises more water than it could possibly deliver. Researchers estimate that the state has given away water “rights” to five times more surface water than exists in a good year.(1) Why? It starts with the fact that California’s water regulations have not been updated since 1914. Yes, more than 100 years!
This out-dated, byzantine system, spurred on by the profit-making hunger of Big Agriculture, has led to a simple problem: demand for water vastly exceeds the supply. To make up the difference, Big Ag has begun sucking up precious water supplies buried deep in the ground, built up over hundreds of thousands of years. As this groundwater disappears, the land — literally, the floor of the Central Valley(!) — is sinking up to a foot a year. Once they are completely exhausted, these underground storage spaces cannot be replenished because they will collapse. All the while, Big Oil is poisoning groundwater aquifers with millions of gallons of toxic fracking wastewater.
This is crazy. This is unsustainable. And unless California’s leaders step into the breach and take on this problem at the scale required — as Australia successfully did 10 years ago — California’s economy and environment may never recover, which could be a devastating blow for the country.(2)