Author Topic: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener  (Read 16944 times)

Offline ModernSurvival

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Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« on: January 21, 2010, 10:56:04 AM »
Got the following email from Greg at RV-103.com ( http://rv-103.com/ ) today.  Here is the email he sent,

----begin Greg email------

Jack,

One thing you have mentioned on your show a few times is a valley in CA that is losing farmland to desert due to water being cut off to save some fish.  Linda and I passed through a large valley just south of Sacramento that made me think of you.  At first, it was thousands of acres of fruit trees, crops, and vineyards as far as the eye could see.  Unbelievably large farms!  As we traveled further north, we could see the farms turning into deserts.   There were many yellow signs along the road that said, “Congress Created Dustbowl.”  There were also fewer signs that said Sacramento and Stockton were dumping waste water into their aqueduct.  The pictures I’m sending you does not even do justice to the desertification we were seeing right before our eyes.  Entire orchards being laid to waste, etc.  I’m not sure if this is the valley you talked about, but it did make me think of you.

Linda asked some folks at the hospital where she is working her contract what the scoop was on the signs and lost farms.  They said that the farmers were warned not to build in that area until all the aqueducts were done, but they didn’t listen and farmed anyway and now are losing their crops.  They didn’t know anything about any fish causing the water to be shut off.  I did notice in the water rich areas numerous large aqueducts, but in the areas being lost very few aqueducts and they were bone dry.

As I said, I am not sure if this is the valley you were talking about, but I wanted to share the pics and what we saw with you.

Be safe and well,

Greg

------end Greg's email--------

In a follow up email he stated to me, "it is like watching the land literally die, do you know what I mean?".  My response was unfortunately yes, yes I do.  Here are his photos.  Again this is a first hand account and it should sober us on much of our arrogance.







This is one of the biggest disasters of our time and media is doing little more then paying lip service to it, where are the environmentalists now.  Oh yea they are saving the fish that isn't even indigenous to the ecosystem. 

If we don't think this can happen to more of our major agricultural systems we are only lying to ourselves.



Offline evilphish

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2010, 11:26:32 AM »
All I can do is shake my head.  ???  I don't get the attitude out there.  I was watching a modern marvel show last weekend on nuts, and they spent a lot of time on the almond and walnut plantations.  From my understanding most of the commercial nut supply in the states is grown in that valley

Offline chris

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2010, 11:55:35 AM »
I'm only passingly familiar with the situation. If there were no aqueduct, stupid fish, etc. what would the land look like? Is the land naturally like that and with water from elsewhere withheld, it's returning to it's natural state? Is the water being withheld, a natural feature of the area and it would naturally flow to the area? I'm not in favor of protecting the silly fish, but I'm rarely in favor of massive resources put into fighting mother nature.

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2010, 12:16:18 PM »
Even worse is that wineries and other developments ruined most of the CA fisheries. The environmentalists didnt stop that, didn't protest it or anything.

What is the fish in question here?

I have a lot of family from the San Joaquin valley and I spent alot of my summers there as a kid. What I have been hearing from my family is that water is being rationed to farmers there so more water can be transported to Sothern Ca via the CA Aqueduct. some farmers are at 20% production as a result.

It has always been common and a sore spot with Northern CA that Nor-Cal water is sent down to So-cal and they are not rationed while Nor cal has to ration water.

Hare of Caerbannog

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2010, 12:32:55 PM »
I'm only passingly familiar with the situation. If there were no aqueduct, stupid fish, etc. what would the land look like? Is the land naturally like that and with water from elsewhere withheld, it's returning to it's natural state? Is the water being withheld, a natural feature of the area and it would naturally flow to the area? I'm not in favor of protecting the silly fish, but I'm rarely in favor of massive resources put into fighting mother nature.

In the 1800s the San Joaquin Valley was a combination of fresh and saltwater swamps, desert, and sort of savanna like grassy hills. The whole area was susceptible to sudden flash flooding.
At first, we drained the swamps and started farming them. As technology allowed, dams and reservoirs were added both to control the flooding and supply water to the big growing cities, the farmers got the left-overs with hollow promises of guaranteed water rations.
The struggle between the cities and the farmers was there from day one. This fish is simply a convenient excuse.
The cities have the political clout so the farmers were doomed from the beginning.

Of course the whole issue could have been avoided and can be solved today if people understood property rights and applied those principals to water. But what's the odds of that happening.
Very sad.
When I was in high school I lived and work on a 26,000 acre farm right in the middle of that mess.

Offline chris

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2010, 12:38:08 PM »
In the 1800s the San Joaquin Valley was a combination of fresh and saltwater swamps, desert, and sort of savanna like grassy hills. The whole area was susceptible to sudden flash flooding.

So the area is in an unnatural state as it is. Withholding the water is just moving it to a different unnatural state, and losing massive food production. It's amazing that Californians have survived this long. Present company excluded.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2010, 12:44:47 PM »
Our daughter lives in Merced which is in the San Joachim Valley, the pictures shown look like they were taken near there. This is where a majority of our fruits, nuts and vegetables used to be grown.  She has often told us that they don't get the good fruit and veggies in town unless you find a local grower with a roadside stand because virtually everything grown there is shipped elsewhere.  What will happen now when the supply that feeds a large portion of the United States especially the Western US is gone?  Food prices will soar (more) for the stuff that is good for you if it is even available. Our government will continue to subsidize the corn industry so we can have more High Fructose Corn Syrup in nearly every product to make up the difference. Oh good. 

Unfortunately for my daughter and her DH the economy in town is not good and because it is a semi-rural area dependent on farming unemployment is high.  A sad situation for all.

Offline evilphish

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2010, 12:52:09 PM »
Quote
and losing massive food production.

not to mention the jobs, and as two blues stated causing food prices to go up.

since crops like tree fruits, nuts, grapes, can take years go to into production I doubt those jobs will ever come back.

Offline Roknrandy

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2010, 02:17:37 PM »
This just proves again how disconnected the Regular population and government are.  :-[

Offline Random63

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2010, 02:27:36 PM »
Jack,

     I wanted to thank you for the linking to my site.  As we continue to travel around the country, I'll keep sending pics and info that I come across that relates to the show.  And for all the visitors today to my site, thank you for stopping by.  I am a bit behind in my posts, but will keep plugging along.  I hope you found it enjoyable as much as you find Jack's site educational and inspirational as I have.

Be safe and well,

Greg

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2010, 02:34:15 PM »

What is the fish in question here?


The Delta Smelt




Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2010, 02:36:59 PM »
So the area is in an unnatural state as it is. Withholding the water is just moving it to a different unnatural state, and losing massive food production. It's amazing that Californians have survived this long. Present company excluded.

And that is the key! 

That land was a highly productive natural eco system.  It was then turned into an artificial ecosystem based on massive monoculture.  It is now turning into a desert.  If we were putting it back into a natural system and harnessing it properly it would be worth the loss.  Instead like always where modern farms go, eventually desert is the result.

TheRoot

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2010, 03:40:33 PM »
Our daughter lives in Merced which is in the San Joachim Valley, the pictures shown look like they were taken near there. This is where a majority of our fruits, nuts and vegetables used to be grown.  She has often told us that they don't get the good fruit and veggies in town unless you find a local grower with a roadside stand because virtually everything grown there is shipped elsewhere.  What will happen now when the supply that feeds a large portion of the United States especially the Western US is gone?  Food prices will soar (more) for the stuff that is good for you if it is even available. Our government will continue to subsidize the corn industry so we can have more High Fructose Corn Syrup in nearly every product to make up the difference. Oh good. 

Unfortunately for my daughter and her DH the economy in town is not good and because it is a semi-rural area dependent on farming unemployment is high.  A sad situation for all.

Yes, I have an aunt that lives in Merced too. At christmas we were talking about that very thing, the vegetables and fruits available being better in the Bay Area than the valley where they are actually grown.

Another thing I noticed when visiting her was the massive amount of abandoned developments out there. Streets and sidewalks that are encompassing overgrown weed fields, some with concrete slabs, some without.

By killing the agriculture along with the closure of Castle AFB, that area is becoming a series of ghostowns.

My grandmother has lived in Atwater for about 25 years and what once was a thriving small town community has now become a skeleton of what it once was.

Browncoat

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2010, 03:58:57 PM »
Wouldn't it behoove these people to start installing swales and other earthwork systems to capture the rainwater? 

Offline Beetle

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2010, 01:31:45 AM »
I'm sure they will just tap the Columbia and pipe it in http://www.oregoncatalyst.com/index.php/archives/2885-Columbia-River-Water-Next-Export-to-California.html...Is there any land out there/ anywhere in it's "natural" state? I know we have turned our forests into tree farms.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 01:34:01 AM by Beetle »

Offline Beetle

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2010, 01:41:23 AM »
In the 1800s the San Joaquin Valley was a combination of fresh and saltwater swamps, desert, and sort of savanna like grassy hills. The whole area was susceptible to sudden flash flooding.
At first, we drained the swamps and started farming them. As technology allowed, dams and reservoirs were added both to control the flooding and supply water to the big growing cities, the farmers got the left-overs with hollow promises of guaranteed water rations.
The struggle between the cities and the farmers was there from day one. This fish is simply a convenient excuse.
The cities have the political clout so the farmers were doomed from the beginning.

Of course the whole issue could have been avoided and can be solved today if people understood property rights and applied those principals to water. But what's the odds of that happening.
Very sad.
When I was in high school I lived and work on a 26,000 acre farm right in the middle of that mess.

   Hare,  Wait until they condem everyones property to build piplines from Oregon to California, Colorado and other south west states to carry water from the Columbia.  http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1218263105159940.xml&coll=7

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2010, 06:59:21 AM »
   Hare,  Wait until they condem everyones property to build piplines from Oregon to California, Colorado and other south west states to carry water from the Columbia.  http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1218263105159940.xml&coll=7

Foil Hat On

Well I guess it will be a lot easier to take away much of this land now won't it.  Perhaps this is why they destroyed lives and killed the land.

Foil Hat Off

No but seriously what a bunch of bastards!

Offline Crispy Critter

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2010, 07:21:58 AM »
I'm sure they will just tap the Columbia and pipe it in http://www.oregoncatalyst.com/index.php/archives/2885-Columbia-River-Water-Next-Export-to-California.html...Is there any land out there/ anywhere in it's "natural" state? I know we have turned our forests into tree farms.
  ...some really interesting comments below the story there...

Ah, the pipe dreams of engineers, scientists, environmentalists and politicians...oh, wait, almost forgot the all important bureaucrats! I pray for political gridlock over projects such as the one you cite...or the 'NAWAPA' as proposed during the 1950's (wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Water_and_Power_Alliance). Political gridlock is mother nature's best friend at times  :)

I also remember some such proposal being submitted for an aqueduct to convey water from East Texas to the drier climes of West Texas. That one was proposed in the mid-1980's, I believe. If these proposals incorporated permaculture ideas from beginning to end, then there might be some actual long-term benefits realized by all parties.

Offline SigMan34

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2010, 09:03:29 AM »
Hearing Jack talk about this situation is one thing...seeing these actual photos really makes the point in stunning color (well, dead brown color anyway).  :-\

Thank God the garden is planned and the seeds have already arrived; Spring cannot come soon enough. What is happening to those folks out there is absolutely terrible, but because of it we sure don't need any more reason to grow everything we possibly can for our own consumption!

Offline Steelhead

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2010, 10:11:37 AM »
Sorry to go long here, but living in Northern Kalifornia this is near and dear to me.
One note of caution when viewing the pictures; the central valley is very still and foggy during the winter, recovering from the massive heat of the summer.  The rows of desolate looking trees may indeed bloom again in a month or two…if given enough water.

That said, the valley is indeed dying.  There once was a massive lake/wetlands in the southern portion of the SJ Valley near Fresno.  A small resort town existed there and now it is all gone, dried up and the town is basically empty and destitute.  This took place back in the 50’s I think.  I’ll look for the article I found.

Read a book called Cadillac Desert.  The author is a bit of an alarmist, but his points are well driven home.  Much of the area of the Western US is only inhabitable by humans due to massive irrigation, which ultimately is indeed destroying the soil and diverting the water from its natural cycle.  This includes LA and the Central Valley (San Joaquin).  Since all but one major river in California has already been dammed the places to turn to are getting slim.
You wanna read something about the history and get a bit depressed, I found the following to be a good summary:  OBTW, the elk, pronghorn and grizzly populations are long gone  ::) (ahem), although I do see a beaver from time to time….yes the mammal. ;) http://geography.berkeley.edu/ProjectsResources/Publications/Parsons_SauerLect.html


I fish for trout/steelhead/etc and watch the river flows.  In addition to crops; no water = no salmonids. 
A month ago I was on the Lower Sacramento River in Redding, which is at the northernmost end of the massive San Joaquin Valley.  The water level was lower than I’d seen it at this time, confirmed by other locals that had been living there their whole lives. 
Landowners I’ve known in that same region are having their wells dry up on them.
From my understanding, since there are less resources being tapped the water is just being pulled in greater amounts from what is still available. 
Much of it is being shipped down south.  For those not familiar with the geography of California the rough distance from Redding (at the north) to the Grapevine (the mountain pass to the south) is about 400 miles.  Once over the Grapevine you officially have “LA”.  Water is being pumped the whole way.  LA has way too many people for its resources, swimming pools and so forth.  That city will kill off the rest of the state….and it is growing.
The problem is far more than the delta smelt.

Thanks for bearing with me.
-Glen

Hare of Caerbannog

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2010, 02:15:29 PM »
Let me just add to what Steelhead stated above.
Everything that's happening in the SJ Valley right now has been going on at a smaller scale in the eastern Sierra Nevadas since they completed two huge pipelines that suck water out of the canyons and valleys and send it to LA. (thanks Mulholland!)
Mono Lake and Owens Lake have suffered along with small (formerly) farming towns like Bishop, Independence, and Lone Pine. The few local farms that still survive have gone to deep wells, sucking the fossil aquifers down by alarming amounts.
Its a very sad and scary situation.

Offline Steelhead

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2010, 04:17:55 PM »
Thanks Hare, I was going to mention the Owens Valley too, but I figured I had rambled on long enough.  I would have loved to experience that area before it was dewatered.  Quite a bit of history behind that whole cluster****!

Mountain Republic

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2010, 04:56:42 PM »
This issue really isn't as much about the Delta smelt as it is about money and who will control California's water in the future.

Who got the richest during the Gold Rush? It sure wasn't the miners. It was the ditch companies that sold water to the miners.

Water is money and power in California and that hasn't changed since 1849.

Offline Bad_Synergy

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #23 on: January 23, 2010, 01:59:15 AM »
As Steelhead and Mountain Republic correctly point out, this far from being just about the Delta Smelt.  Water distribution within California is a hotly contested issue, and I believe Northern California, facing hard times, has recently started to realize that it is getting the raw end of the deal when it comes to this issue (and without any question it has). 

Environmental consideration is just a convenient spin, IMO – kind of like a “watch the shiny quarter” bit.  In fact, I would bet my arse that the mandated water restriction wouldn’t have passed last year had a good portion of the state not been pissed that it has been inequitably footing the bill for the south to derive most of the apparent benefits.  To me, the Delta Smelt just seem to be a convenient opportunity - distracting everyone from the real contest: “money and control”.  Unfortunately, for the farmers in the midst of CA’s drought, the timing of this restriction could not have been much more inconvenient.

When it comes to the above pictures, one thing to keep in mind:  the south is naturally a semi arid desert.  If it were not for extraordinary effort and money, those pictures would look like Death Valley this year.  That said, not in any way to marginalize the horrible impacts to southern farmers (hard working, good people - a rarity now-a-days in CA), reducing the southern allotment by 20% might be a really good wake up call for a few people, if it were not for the long-term repercussions to CA’s agricultural sector.

Something to ponder:
75% of the rainfall in California falls on the north side of the Delta, and roughly 75% of the state’s water consumption takes place on the south side of the Delta…. And, demand in the south has been slowly rising for years and years.  Furthermore, meeting this demand will continue to get more and more expensive, not just for the south but for everyone in the state.

As an aside:
This topic is of particular interest to me.  I just got hired onto a USDA funded research project, concerned with improving precision agriculture for orchards in the CA central valley.  Three weeks from now I am scheduled to travel down to the south end of the San Joaquin Valley to visit several almond and pistachio orchards; for the purpose of familiarizing myself with the orchards – so that I can better interpret data concerning them (I will take pictures).  Coming into this with a bit of a background in CA water resources, I hope that I can provide some insightful thoughts on this topic in the future, as my research project evolves.

Great posts everyone!

P.S.  HoC and Steelhead,
If you ever have a chance to go fishing around the Bishop area, don’t pass up the opportunity.  As part of LA’s deal to continue to draw water out of the Owens Valley, they now have to stock the hell out of the Owens River (running right passed Bishop).  Not a bad deal for anyone, as far as I can tell; particularly for those of us that love trout fishing. 

Offline Artos

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2010, 11:50:47 AM »
Looks exactly like the areas in Southern Diyala along the Iranian border mountains I was in.  Does anybody know anything about the local aquifer?

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #25 on: January 24, 2010, 09:34:06 PM »
OK, here's my first post, so be easy on me............

Since the early '60's the aquifer in the southern San Joaquin Valley has dropped over 400 feet. The aquifer is in such bad shape that some surface areas of the valley have sunk over 25 feet (subsidence). Although, it hasn't sunk much since the late '70's, once it has sunk it compresses the aquifer and the total "holding" capacity of the aquifer is permanently reduced.

The current water wars have been fueled by political reforms in the '70's that limits local government growth unless the population increases. Thus, all the cities in the state have readily encouraged new residential development for the last two decades while the "greenies" stopped practically every water storage  project that was proposed. The result is 21st century population densities supplied by 1960's water infrastructures.

Sorry this was long, but I hope it shed some light on the subject. T


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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2010, 12:52:09 AM »
Hello all,
I had to chime in on this topic as it has been effecting my family very SEVERELY for the last two years. I live in Mendota, Ca on the westside of the Central San Joaquin Valley and have a 3000 Acre farm (small for our area). We grow Almonds, Grapes, Onions, Tomatoes, and Melons. For the last two years we have left 1000 acres of our farm fallow so that we would have enough allocated water to keep our perminant crops alive. Last year we had a 10 percent water allocation from our water district (Westlands Water District). The amount of water that equates to is roughly 0.33 acre/feet. It generally takes 3 acre/feet to grow an average crop, so as you can see, we were short by about a factor of 9. It is important that people understand that the farms in my area are the most water efficient farms in the world, the vast majority of us have not only our trees and vines under drip irrigation, but our row crops as well. Guys out here have done everything they can to conserves water, but it's not enough. For the last two years wells have been in use on every ranch out here that has one, and most ranches have drilled new wells, our ranch included. The well water out here is salty, and we are harming our soil with every irrigation we make, but we really have no choice.

It just makes me sick to know that everything my Grandfather, and Father have built is in jeopardy because of lack of understanding that people have about were their food comes from. I want people to know that withing a 10 miles radius of our farm the following crops have historically been produced: Apples, Almonds, Asparagus,  Broccoli, Bell Peppers, Corn, Cotton, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Cucumbers, Honeydews, Grapes (wine and table),  Jalapenos, Lettuce, Nectarines, Onions, Peaches, Pistachios, Pomegranates, Tomatoes, Watermelons, and I am sure I left some out.

If anybody wants more info on this subject please feel free to ask. This is such a HUGE topic with so many ramifications I can't even begin to touch on all of the issues that are going on out here because of this mess.

Offline Bad_Synergy

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2010, 02:13:39 AM »
SanJoaquinValley,

It makes me sick inside to think of your predicament

Regarding my last post - In retrospect I wish I would have put more emphasis on the hardship poor policy and utter lack of statewide planning has incurred farmers such as yourself.  The state of California owes you more, and my best wishes go out to you. 

A heartfelt +1 from me!

Hare of Caerbannog

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2010, 06:28:33 AM »
Great posts Troy and SanJoaquinValley
This topic almost brings me to tears, having spent so much time in the area and knowing how the small farmers in the valley are stuck between the giant corporate farms and the politics of the cities and the environmentalists.
The small farmers in that area are good people and many of their family farms go back to the time of the gold rush.


also Bad_Synergy I love fishing the Eastern Sierras. There's a little place near Manzanar called Shepard's Creek that, back in the day,almost no one knew about. I love that area.

Offline Beetle

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Re: Emails and Photos of the Water Crisis in CA from a Listener
« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2010, 01:56:54 PM »
They are doing the same thing to the farmers in Klamath falls. Shutting off the water for some crappy sucker fish. http://www.klamathbasincrisis.org/