The New York Times breathless article about California’s growth coming to an end has missed the point. What growth are they talking about? The only unbridled growth in California has been our population as millions have come across our borders seeking employment and access to our education, heath care and welfare services. We have had little infrastructure growth. Agriculture growth has been constrained by the lack of water, and the states water storage capacity has not grown since 1973, when the environmentalist took control of the states legislative process.
For some insight in to the issues I recommend reading Victor Davis Hanson: “An Engineered Drought”
Victor Davis Hanson: “The Scorching of California, How Green extremists made a bad drought worse”
Ellen and I were just in Arizona who are experiencing similar drought conditions. However, Arizona’s water supply seems to be in a much better condition. According to the news reports there isn’t even a 50/50 chance for a “water shortage declaration” until 2017.
What explains this? The two states have similarly arid/semi-arid climates and shared drought conditions, yet Arizona does not have the water shortages that California has. One has to ask why? According to AZ authorities, it comes down to planning ahead.
If you look at the history of Arizona and New Mexico, the native people in these regions have lived under long term drought conditions for 20-50 years at a stretch, and many times the only way to survive was to move into the mountains were there was some water. Still many starved when it became impossible to grow enough food, due to the lack of rain on the fields and snow in the mountains to feed the streams. The current Arizonian’s seem to have learned lessons from this history and are preparing for a long-term drought.
The drought is a big deal and we do not know how long it will last. It could be over next year, or last for 20 to 50 years. We are going to have to change how we live. One of the problems that must be solved is the states underinvestment in water infrastructure. We need more storage and methods for distributing the water that was collected to those that need it. We will have to change the legislature and our political policy makers to make that happen. The question is how long will it take? Longer than the drought?