Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Joe Guzzardi: Will limited water resources kill California agriculture?

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014 12:00 am

This week, two News-Sentinel headlines caught my attention. The first story addressed what steps some Lodians are taking to preserve precious water. One of the most popular methods — and a step in the right direction — is to replace natural grass lawns with artificial turf. Because of technological advances, new turf is more similar to real grass than the old Astro-Turf used three decades ago at indoor baseball stadiums.

Concerned families are also taking shorter showers and reusing wash water in the garden.

While that’s all well and good, the developments outlined in the second story will more than offset individual conservation measures.

On Wednesday, the Lodi Planning Commission approved by a unanimous 4-0 vote further development at Reynolds Ranch.

The initial concept is to split the large parcels of the 27-acre development into 25 smaller parcels that will eventually create 78,000 square feet of commercial space. The new businesses will include a McDonald’s, a sit-down restaurant and a car wash, all significant water users. Other businesses, although less water intensive, are also users: a drive-up bank, a tire store and other retail outlets, and two supermarket-style firms.

One thing is certain. Lodians and other Californians can’t have it both ways. Business expansion and home development projects are inconsistent with natural resource conservation, especially water. And it’s unfair to residents to expect them to conserve and/or pay higher water rates while business interests push ahead.

The Environmental Protection Agency found that 10 of the 15 fastest-growing metropolitan areas are in arid California and other western states like Nevada, Arizona and Colorado. Unfortunately, the West also has the nation’s highest per capita residential water use. Many areas like Lodi are facing rapid population growth and increasing development pressure, which contribute to the mounting difficulty of providing adequate water supply to their residents.

Gov. Jerry Brown has urged a 20 percent voluntary reduction in water usage, a goal that should be achievable but may not be enough — assuming, as anticipated, the drought persists.

The typical California single-family home uses an average of more than 360 gallons of water daily with the range falling between Palm Springs’ 720 and San Francisco’s 175 gallons. To meet Brown’s standards, residents would have to use 72 fewer gallons a day, a task that is not daunting. For example, fixing leaking faucets can save 140 gallons a week.

But what to do about agriculture? California grows more than 98 percent of the nation’s pistachio crop, 95 percent of broccoli, 92 percent of strawberries, 91 percent of grapes and 90 percent of lettuce and tomatoes. Those crops are produced in regions that range from, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, “abnormally dry” to “exceptional drought.” The California Department of Food and Agriculture published these statistics about how much water it takes to grow these crops: one head of broccoli, 5.4 gallons; a single tomato, 3.3 gallons. Other major California crops like lettuce and walnuts use 3.5 and 4.9 gallons respectively.

Agriculture’s heavy reliance on increasingly scarce water prompted Jay Lund, a water expert at the University of California, Davis, to predict the unthinkable. Lund foresees that water shortages may mean that agriculture will soon play a diminished role in California’s economy, forcing the agriculture business to the South and the Midwest, where water is less expensive.

As hard as it is to imagine a California without abundant agricultural riches, that day may be soon approaching.

Joe Guzzardi taught in the Lodi Unified School District from 1987 to 2008. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 5 hours ago by Gary Maurer.

article: Letter: Leaders to blame for police dea…

Hey Thomas, I am with you on this one. This kind of balderdash is always about the writer's jaded views of the world and never, never abou…

More...

Posted 6 hours ago by Ed Walters.

article: Letter: Leaders to blame for police dea…

I`m off being bad, at least till after New Years, Merry Christmas to all you happy posters. [beam]

More...

Posted 7 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

Former contributor alex recently emailed me. He wants everyone here to have a wonderful and merry holiday season and wishes everyone a ver…

More...

Posted 7 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Letter: Leaders to blame for police dea…

"All those who voted for this petulant little man should be ashamed." ...I'm not. "If any police officers are hurt as a res…

More...

Posted 11 hours ago by Ed Walters.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

Time for a change: Everything that can be said has been said in many forms concerning Ferguson, along with the latest shooting. Simon, …

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

What was the biggest local story of 2014?

It has been an eventful year in Lodi, from the antics of a wild turkey named Tom Kettleman to the announced closure of the General Mills plant. What do you see as the biggest story of the year?

Total Votes: 202

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists