Sunday, April 5, 2015

California drought: Why mandatory cuts didn’t hit farms






On Wednesday, April 8, Governor Jerry Brown issued the very first order of its kind in California: a mandatory cutback on water usage. This crackdown will require residents and businesses to lessen water usage by 25 percent. Brown also plans to implement programs that will help support his order, such as replacing homeowners' grasses with drought-tolerant landscaping and swapping out current dishwashers and toilets with more water-efficient ones. However, Brown's executive order does not apply to farmers/agricultural purposes, even though this industry uses 80 percent of the state's water that could otherwise be made available to residents and other businesses. This exemption made for agriculture has sparked controversy. Some argue that farmers have already suffered drastic losses as a result of the worsening drought, and additionally, the water that farmers use are essential to producing food for the rest of the state's population. Others argue that while making it necessary for residents and businesses to cutback on water is a good idea, the fact that farmers are using 80 percent of the state's water does not exactly help the intentions of saving water.

Whose side do you take? Do you think Brown issued a fair order, and if not, what possible improvements could be made to it? What are some of your other thoughts on this issue?

4 comments:

Kelsey O'Donnell said...

I definitely understand the exemption and the reasons behind it because food is important and water is necessary for that. However, I don't agree with the exemption because there are so many ways that farms can cut back on water such as a drip system instead of regular sprinklers. If the state demands that these more efficient systems are put into place without demanding a 25% cutback then it might be a good compromise that will save water without being a horrible cutback to farms because many already have this system.

Katie Wysong 6 said...

I think that the water for farmers should be handled in a different plan. They should still try to conserve water, but I think it should not be part of the outlined program. The water right rules in California are very complicated and convoluted,so should be handled seperately from consumer water usage. I think that the mandatory water cutbacks are a good idea as the drought is very severe. During the drought in the 1970s, local municipalities instated their own cutbacks. That has not happened with this drought, so I think it is good that Brown has instituted the mandatory cutbacks. People were not doing it on their own, because there is not a large enough economic incentive to do so. Hopefully, the regulations imposed by local water districts will be put in a way to incentivise conservation.

Miranda Brinkley said...

I agree that the water rationing guidelines for farmers should be less than that of ordinary people, but I think the exemption may be a little too lenient. The idea that Kelsey mentioned seems to be a good one, and I feel like little changes like that are actually very similar to the ways non farming people attempt to conserve water, like shorter showers, watering the lawn at night, etc. Though they undoubtedly require more water, as as was mentioned, food is important, I think they ought to have a set of their own restrictions put into place in tandem with the ones the rest of us are facing.

Scott R. Becker said...

I understand the Governor's position and his reasoning for how the recent law was put into effect. While I agree that food is very important and it requires a plentiful amount of water, a full out exemption seems a little cavalier. In times of crisis the government calls on everyone to pitch in and help the effort. I suggest that the farmers have certain regulation placed on them. For example, that farmers must switch to drip line irrigation, as Kelsey mentioned, planting more drought tolerant crops or rotating their crops to keep the soil fresh.