Water mismanagement is an urgent wake-up call for Californians

With the wet winter currently underway, California have a chance to break the cycle of feast and famine, writes William Bourdeau.

As Californians, we are truly blessed to live in a state that has such abundant natural resources and vast expanses of farm land, making it a true epicenter of agriculture. The San Joaquin Valley, in particular, is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, producing a staggering number of crops that eventually find their way to our tables. It is imperative that we understand and appreciate the importance of agriculture in California, and more broadly, across the United States.

It’s not just a matter of convenience or choice. A robust domestic food supply capability has immense national security ramifications. A lack of food supply puts us at a significant disadvantage – not just as portions of the population go hungry, but because we may be functionally dependent on imports from other countries. California’s agriculture plays no small part in maintaining our nation’s food security.


But the importance of agriculture in California goes beyond the food security aspect; it affects the economy, the job market, and the environment as well. It’s a multifaceted issue that deserves our attention.

One critical aspect of California agriculture is water management. California has always been prone to floods and droughts. Given the state’s Mediterranean climate and Sierra Nevada Mountain range, it is subject to rainfall and snowfall only during specific periods. Yet, we have not built adequate infrastructure or effectively manage it to capture and store this water when it is abundant. It’s as if we don’t trust the rainy seasons, given how vulnerable we truly are. But the consequences of such negligence have come home to roost. California’s water crisis has been the subject of much news, with several communities experiencing cutbacks and even absolute shortages over the years.

However, with the wet winter currently underway, we have a chance to break the cycle. Let’s look at how California can benefit from this season’s precipitation, and what opportunities lie ahead.

Agriculture stands a great chance of benefiting immensely from this wet winter. The rains will fill up our aquifers and reservoirs that can sustain agriculture even during drought years. These reserves provide for our cities and towns, as well. It is not only a blessing for farming, but it is a blessing for the people of California.

We need to think beyond the short-term, and better manage our infrastructure to capture and store water. With strategic investments in infrastructure and reasonable environmental regulations, we can prevent water scarcity, maintain our agriculture, provide flood control, and ultimately secure our food supply chain.

Amid a season of plentiful rain, it’s critical to remember that we can never underestimate the importance of agriculture in California. It is not just a necessary component of our economy, it’s also a matter of national security – one that we should all take seriously. By investing in and managing our water resources, we can ensure that our state continues to produce high-quality crops and grows sustainably over the years. We should all recognize what we have in California and work together to make sure we are setting ourselves up for sustained success.

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