Our current drought emergency appears to be getting worse with this spring promising to be one of the warmest and driest on record with another destructive fire season ahead of us.
We have been asked to conserve and I believe some of us are. But for every one of us showering less and sinking bricks in our toilet tanks there are others who continue to consume more than their fair share of water – soon to be our most precious commodity as our supply dwindles.
I don’t know how many if any people know that agriculture consumes 80 percent of our state’s water supply. We grow nearly half the country’s fruit, vegetables and nuts, exporting water-sucking crops like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, dairy products and wine. Many of these crops require watering even during drought years, with the alfalfa we grow to feed our cows drinking up more water than any other crop.
We’ve sunk so many wells in our search for fresh water that our groundwater is getting harder to access and our land is sinking in places. In less than 100 years, some Central Valley farmland has sunk as much as 28 feet in some areas while groundwater pollution becomes an increasing threat.
We’re bracing for this year’s fires while many of us are still recovering from last year’s megafires.
We need to be doing everything we can to conserve our water and to recognize it as the precious resource it is.