Westlands California water tunnels “no” could be “fatal blow”

This is a big deal:

Citing concerns about costs to individual farmers, Westlands Water District’s board of directors voted 7-1 against participating in the project, known officially as California WaterFix.

Westlands is the first major water agency to vote on the project, and other big districts are expected to make their decisions in the coming weeks. Because the sprawling agricultural district in Fresno and Kings counties would have shouldered about a quarter of the project’s costs, the vote could represent a fatal blow. (emphasis added)

That’s Kasler and Sabalow, the Sacramento Bee’s water team, on yesterday’s stunning Westlands vote.

What we seem to be in, as OtPR noted recently, is a discussion about the best way to bring California’s irrigated acreage into line with hydrologic reality – as in, there’s not enough water to keep irrigating the acreage we now irrigate – how much do we push engineering solutions (tunnels, deeper wells) and how much do we find tools to gracefully reduce the amount of land in production.


  1. The problem is that the next chunk of water is too expensive to farm with. You can always get more water, but it gets more and more expensive to gather and clean it. We seem to be at the threshold where the next piece of water is too expensive to grow crops with, even tree nuts.

    I rue daily that the people who would most benefit from a graceful retreat are the ones most opposed to considering retreat at all. They are their own victims, but it bothers me to watch it. Of course, my bleeding heart has recently been comforted by the notion that many are Trump supporters hastening the end of their lifestyle. That takes some of the sting out of it for me.

  2. California farmers cannot have more water. They already use too much water. They can either cut back on irrigated acreage or invest in technology to make better use of the water they have or, far preferably, both.

  3. a return to dry farming methods on some lands
    could at least cover the costs of keeping them and
    i’m sure there are other crops that could be grown
    instead of high water demand crops.

    in the wetter years they should have enough residual
    moisture to get a short season crop in before the
    hot weather arrives.

    if they used mulches they could probably extend that
    by a few weeks.

    as it is the few orchards i’ve seen in that area tend to
    be rather barren on the ground and i’m sure that would
    increase their demand for water. a good mulch layer
    would cut water losses. also, i don’t see wind breaks.
    yet another water saving feature.

    they are just beginning to scratch the surface in terms
    of what can be done to capture and sink some of the
    rains they do get. so, yes, overall there’s a lot of room
    still for improvement in the water they already get.

    as i’ve seen in some even harsher climates. if you do
    things with thought you can be productive and feed
    people. must not overload the system though…

Comments are closed.