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Water Crisis Results from Years of Inaction

The federal Central Valley project announced on February 21st, 2014 that it will deliver no water to most of its farm customers highlights the lack of investment California has made in new water supplies, according to the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. CFBF President Paul Wenger said the state has failed to insulate itself from the effects of drought.

“As the saying goes, you reap what you sow, and our state and federal governments have failed miserably at providing the resources and infrastructure to adapt to changing climatic conditions,” Wenger said.

“Make no mistake, our current water crisis is not caused by two years of below normal rainfall, followed by the record dry year we’re having right now,” Wenger said. “This crisis is the direct result of 20-plus years of inaction by politicians and policy-makers, who have failed to take the steps required to shield California from drought.

“We are living the future that we have predicted for at least the last two decades. Without the creation of additional water storage, California is unprepared for extended drought. Because of the increased demands from population growth and an inflexible commitment to the protection of endangered species and habitat, our water system has been drained of its flexibility to provide water in times of drought,” he said.

Wenger pointed out that with both the state and federal water systems announcing “zero” allocations for their customers, the effects on the people and the economy of California will be severe, calling the cutbacks “just the tip of the iceberg of devastation” that will face farmers, ranchers and consumers throughout California.

“All people in California will suffer because of the state’s inaction, but those in rural California will suffer worst of all. The extensive investments farmers and urban residents have made to increase water efficiency have not shielded us from this disaster, despite 20-plus years of assurances from environmental activists that all we needed to do was to conserve,” Wenger said.

“The only good that will result from this crisis is if it opens the eyes of our elected leaders and leads to actions that recognize California needs to muster all the tools at its disposal,” he said. “That includes water recycling, desalination, efficiency improvements and, yes, new reservoirs—to avoid more years of loss and damage to both our economy and our environment.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 78,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

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