Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Saturday, February 28, 2009

California's Water "Crisis."

The Governator wants cities to reduce water usage 20%? It took some sleuthing, but I finally found information that is (possibly) undiluted by the powerful agricultural lobby regarding California's water usage. Many websites ( for one) don't even mention agricultural use! On the heavily pro-agriculture DWR website:
Most of this production would not be possible without irrigation. In average year [sic] California agriculture irrigates 9.6 million acres using roughly 34 million acre-feet of water of the 43 million acre-feet diverted from surface waters or pumped from groundwater.
The math here is 34/43=79%. Nearly four-fifths of the "diverted" water in California goes to agriculture.

The above figure of 79% does not include water already flowing on arable land (therefore, the true consumption by agriculture is still hidden from me) , but it's sufficient for the point I wish to make. Agriculture is using about 4/5ths of the water that is being diverted. Cities, industrial and other commercial applications use the other fifth. Shall I guess that urban use accounts for the whole 21%? I'm guessing it's 2/3 of that at most, so urban consumption is perhaps (perhaps!) 15% of all diverted water. If urban usage is reduced 20%, overall usage drops 3%.

36 million people are being asked to make a rather large shift in their behavior for a net savings system wide of 3%. I'm all for people using resources more wisely. I wonder if this is the best place to apply ourselves?

Surely, surely, a far better use of our willpower and effort would be to understand how to use less water agriculturally?

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