By Dayna Ghirardelli, Executive Director
When I was a kid, we called today’s “atmospheric river” a rainstorm. The very rainstorms that graced us at the beginning of January made me a bit nostalgic. Going to school in Tomales, we could be sure that there would be flooding in all of the usual places and, without fail, the power would go out. Both of these would typically contribute to shorter school days or no school at all considering the student body came from Tomales, Bodega Bay, Valley Ford, Two Rock, and Point Reyes. During storms like the ones we just had, I remember watching my dad wade through the flooded fields and swim the heifers across the creek to get them to higher ground. It was quite a sight to see.
All of this rain is a welcomed sense of renewal and deep appreciation. The filling of the dams, lakes, and reservoirs allows us to breathe a sigh of relief, but it is a hesitant one. We’ve become accustomed to the reality that the infrastructures and policies in our state are lacking.
In 2014, California voters passed Proposition 1 to issue $7.12 billion in bonds for water supply infrastructure projects and allocate bond revenue, enacting the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. Of the $7.12 billion, it was proposed that $2.17 billion be dedicated to water storage, dam, and reservoir projects, including the building of the Sites Reservoir on the west side of the Sacramento Valley. It is a shame that nothing has been done to improve our water infrastructure since this was passed. It sure would have been useful right about now. Instead, the government and the media continue down the path of scare tactics using a red-herring approach to our water situation versus simply doing something about it that will serve the people and the environment.
If you are a Facebook user, I recommend that you join “The CA Water for Food and People Movement” page. The administrators of this page have become champions in combatting misinformation and offering actual data on the topic of water in the state of California. The page was started only seven years ago and has nearly 28,000 members. It serves as a communication vessel for the grassroots movement they formed in response to the irresponsible management of California’s water. The group’s focus initiated with the water woes of the San Joaquin Valley, but it has quickly and appropriately expanded throughout the rest of the state. I find this page to be extremely informative, thought-provoking, and irritating! The shared data that paints the picture of the real events of our water afflictions makes my blood boil and puts me in a constant state of anger at how negligent our policy-makers are. Here’s a simple statistic from their page that was posted on January 19th: “98M acre feet of water fell on CA in 3 weeks. It’s enough water to meet the needs of 40M people for 25.5 years.” With the right infrastructure and responsible strategies, sounds like all species, including farmers, could comfortably cohabitate in California.
Trials and tribulations regarding state and local policies on water storage and use from local lakes, reservoirs, and dams are similar across the state. The bottom line is that the water issues faced by any farmer within the state directly affect everyone by way of new policies, more stringent regulations, and the increasing cost of goods. The trend of residences and businesses leaving the state of California continues for so many reasons, with water being an underlying contributing factor.
With proper infrastructure, we all thrive!