Editorial: Liver and onions and California water

Issue Date: July 22, 2009
Doug Mosebar

Doug Mosebar

During the years right before and during World War II, in an effort to conserve meat for overseas troops, the government launched a campaign to encourage families to eat more organ meats. Families were told they would get their proteins this way, while conserving meat for our soldiers. Liver and onions became a main course on family dinner tables, and you can still hear the wails of most children as they asked, "Do I have to eat this, Mom?"

Americans, with prodding from some creative marketers, changed their eating habits to support the war. It's time we embrace a similar paradigm with regard to water in California. It's time for all Californians, figuratively speaking, to consume some liver for the state's greater good. We must take actions that will benefit agriculture and our ability to produce food, while also benefiting residents from the north to the south and the environment. More importantly, we must come to an understanding that we all have a stake in solving this issue.

To address our current water emergency, we all need to think big and think creatively. We have issued a call for action to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Congress to pursue the following short- and long-term projects:

  1. Prompt approval and development of the "Two Gates" project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to avoid shutting off water pumps during key periods of the year, especially during the rainy season and into the periods of optimum water flow.
  2. Development of an "intertie" canal to link state and federal water projects.
  3. Re-consultation on the causes of fish decline in the delta and an examination of all factors affecting fish numbers. This re-consultation should take into account new science that shows urban runoff and wastewater are contributing materially to the destruction of food supplies for protected species in the delta.
  4. A firm commitment and timetable from the federal government and state of California to pursue meaningful water development by advancing studies and early engineering work for projects such as the off-stream Sites Reservoir, enlargement of Lake Shasta and development of additional water storage above the San Joaquin River.
  5. Passage of legislation creating a temporary waiver of the Endangered Species Act for the duration of the current drought or an examination of the role that convening the "God Squad" can serve in pursuing common-sense changes to the ESA to avoid unnecessary and damaging conflicts.

In the last six years, farmers throughout California have invested billions in water efficient technologies. We need the government to match those investments, by building projects that assure reliable water supplies for our state.

We currently have neither the supply nor the commitment for long-term conveyance improvements to carry forward in a way that makes California agriculture economically viable. Intelligent engineering of water resources is critical. California would not be what it is had we not had the foresight to develop water infrastructure that took advantage of seasonal timing and relative geography to make the state prosper. We need to bring back some of the optimism that gave us the Central Valley Project, the State Water Project and all of the other can-do local projects that made it possible for us to succeed.

Many will argue that new water projects are too expensive and that they will never pay for themselves. Today, we are finding just how expensive it is not to develop new water sources, as our rural communities have lost jobs, small businesses and revenue, while once-productive fields stand idle.

We are at rock bottom now in this water crisis so the only way to go is up.

Let's work together to urge our legislative leaders to ease restrictive environmental regulations, enact smart land use planning and pursue water policies that make sense. Food and farm production in California generates revenue, enhances rural economies and ensures food security for our nation.

We are not going to get everything we want individually, so we all have to be willing to eat some liver while we lead the effort to develop a water plan that enhances the viability of all California farms and ranches.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.