The Central Valley (also known as the Great Valley) is one of the most developed farming communities in the United States, and possibly the world. It is over four hundred and thirty miles long, and an average of fifty miles wide (about the size of England). It is totally enclosed by mountains including the Sierra Nevada. It is about one of the worlds largest valleys stretching from Redding to Bakersfield. It has two main water supplies, which are the Sacramento (from the north) River, and the San Joaquin River from the South. We, the members of the Central Valley Agricultural Coalition, each hold more than ten thousand acres of land in this farming paradise. We feed America. Without this Great Valley, America and parts of the world would have to look for other sources of food. One of our main goals and interests is to provide the United States with the food that they need, want, and still make a profit towards Californias economy.
Agriculture is one of Californias top industries. In 1997, the Central Valley contributed 26.8 billion dollars through direct sales, and we provide one in every 10 jobs. The Central Valley’s farm production in one year exceeds all of the value of gold mined in California since 1848 when California became very popular throughout the United States and parts of the world.
The reason that this particular case involves us is because the City of Los Angeles now wants to cut into the Central Valley Project (a series of pipelines that take mostly the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin water and diverts it to the fields). They want to build a pipeline that would take water from this pipeline to L.A. for their water needs. L.A. is trying to get the water rights (which is like owning a quantity of water that you own and have a right to use) to do this and we are entirely against it. We require this water for our agricultural needs and do not think it should go to a city that is overpopulated and is wasteful to their natural resources. We need the water that L.A. is trying to take to irrigate our farms and grow our crops.
One of the main problems with L.A.s demands for more water from us is that it takes away from the agricultural fields that exist in the Central Valley. They have already taken water from so many other sources such as Owens Lake, Mono Lake, and even today, they are taking more than their share of the Colorado River. Before they should steal water for agricultural purposes like the Central Valley, maybe they should start conserving water instead of taking it. Members of The Central Valley Agricultural Coalition have come up with solutions that you will hear about next, that involve, them conserving water and us conserving water as a compromise, and how to get more water for L.A. from other resources than Central Valley.
As you know, other groups will come up with solutions that are not as good as ours are, or could possibly the same. We have come up with one solution from each group. The L.A. Chamber of Commerce is a group of large business representatives that pretty much want to do what is best for their own interests and companies. If L.A. declines in population, then the businesses do not get customers, which means no money. Therefore, the Chamber of Commerce wants the water to come to L.A. so that the population can spur, and the new citizens can spend money on their big businesses. Of course, the L.A. Chamber of Commerce wants the water diverted from the Central Valley to their overcrowded city. The problem with that is that there will be no water left over for farming, which means that Californias economy will indeed plummet.
The Mono Lake Committee is a group of small environmentalists that have studied Mono Lakes ecological system. They concluded that since L.A. was taking water from the lake, the ecosystem would be slowly destroyed. Obviously, they convinced the Government of this, and L.A. was supposed to pump water back into the lake. One of their solutions though would be to take the water from somewhere else besides Mono Lake, such as the Central Valley. Again, this is not a good proposal because that means that agriculture will be reduced and Californias yearly income will go down.
The Sierra Club is another deep-rooted environmental group. They also look at ecosystems and the effect that cities like L.A. have on them because of the lack of water. One of their solutions would be again to instead of taking it from vastly populated places (with animals that is) take it from places where that would not happen. Central Valley was a beautiful animal spot, but now it is a farming community. Therefore, let us either take it from us (of course this is bad for the Central Valley) or do desalination (which is one of our solutions) desalination is of course a very good solution, and it is one of ours that we will explain a little later.
The L.A. Citizens Council is a group made up of middle class citizens of L.A. that want their water of course. The citizens want clean water to wash their hands, water their lawns, and fill their swimming pools, and now they are running out of water because they do not conserve. Their solution will be to take water from another source (i.e. the Central Valley) so that the urban area can become very dense populated. L.A. is the central for western industrial economy. Water is much more important for them, right? Not exactly what we had in mind. Since the Central Valley is the farming central of the United States and we must have the water to grow our crops. They might say, Remember the Midwest? That is not accurate because we grow just about as much food as the entire Midwest combined. As you can see, this major farming industry cannot go on without the use of water.
The Central Valley farm workers are workers that are under us. Yes, they are poor, but they also want to provide for their families. They do not want the water transferred from the Central Valley because that means that we will stop farming and that leads to no jobs. Their solution would be to bring the water from somewhere else to L.A. Anywhere else, such as to desalinize water or recycle. That is two of our solutions that we will talk about later, but we totally agree with the solutions concerning the Farm Workers. They have families to worry about we have our land.
The Central Valley Agricultural Coalition has come up with four main solutions that we would like to present to the SRS Supreme Court. This paragraph is dedicated to explaining one solution that we have come up with. Our first solution is water treatment instead of dumping dirty and polluted water into the ocean like most of the world still does. We propose that L.A. teat their wastewater in a Treatment Plant then it can be used in sprinklers and drip systems. We know this is not a new idea, but it is an idea that can be used more thoroughly. Now this water cannot be reused for consumption purposes, but it can be used to irrigate lawn as well as agricultural farms.
In some studies, it has shown that specific wastewater that contains certain chemicals (such as phosphates and nitrates) that are in chemicals in fertilizers and can even help the crops and lawns grow. Now, the water that was wasted on lawn sprinklers now is good drinking water that is obviously not wasted. Using this recycling method, the good drinking water that is used on lawns can now be used for drinking, and the treated water can be used on the lawns and drip systems. The approximate cost of this would have to depend on many things. First, each house has to pay for his share of the factory and the pipes. The off site transmission (or the big pipe that brings the water from the factory to the house) plus the cost of the factory would be about $5,000 (in L.A) per house. The cost of the neighborhood distribution (the little pipes that go from the big pipe, to the houses) would be about $6500-$9000 for a half an acre property, and $5000-$7500 for one quarter of an acre. This is just an estimate according to Tom Kelley, (see bibliography).
Our second proposal involves desalinization. Desalinization is the process of making salt water into good drinking water. Renewing U.S. leadership on desalinization technology will yield untold benefits, a quote from Paul Simeon says that we are running out of water, but look, 80% of the world is covered with water, and we should be able to use it like fresh water. That is exactly what a desalinization plant does. It allows the human race to use salt water by treating it, and extracting the salt from it, and using it for drinking, showers, and other freshwater purposes. Some say that desalinization wastes money and is not as cost effective as other solutions. When the United States was trying to research it, it was not cost effective at the time and was a waste of money when not necessary.
Only Florida and Saudi Arabia (that I am aware of) uses desalinization plants. One of the main reasons for this is because Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy country. They also do not have clean water mostly because of dryness, but also because of Saddam Hussein using oil pollution as a weapon of war. The United States started researching it in the 1970s but soon lost interest on the subject because of the great oil crisis. It is becoming more popular though because it uses less energy per unit of water treated, which equals less money. Four decades ago, desalinization took twenty-five energy units to produce one unit of drinking water. Using modern technology and techniques one hundred water units can be made from one unit of energy. As you can see, it can be feasible because of new technology.
The costs of this depend on many things and could be savior for L.A. The average cost is $6 per 1000 gallons of water a day that is pretty much delivered to your door (or bathroom). An average house uses 1000 gallons of water per day with a cost of $6 per day for desalinized water. The advantage of this compared to gray water (sewage water) is that it is potable (drinkable) and it can be put into the main drinking pipe, and a new pipe does not have to be built. The interesting part about this is by the time L.A. transports water out of Central Valley (including the building of new pipes and cannels) it would cost about the same to put desalination project into L.A., interesting.
Our third proposal involves the Central Valley conserving more water. In this paragraph we are talking about crops other than high water consuming crops such as rice, the fourth largest water consuming crop. Rice needs to be grown in virtually a manmade lake becasue of how much water it takes up and how it is grown. Now what some farmers still do is called flood irrigation. This is a total waste of water because it allows the crops to be sitting in at least an inch of water. The earth the crops are growing in absorbs some of this water, but the rest of the water is evaporated or taken off and is called tail water. Some would say that the water that is tail water that is not evaporated or soaked up by the ground could be re-used for other agricultural purposes. This is not accurate because of the chemicals that are used in fertilization. These chemicals are mixed in with the water and this causes the tail water that is washed away from the fields to be poisonous for other agricultural purposes and not reusable.
Therefore, instead of farmers irrigating their fields by flood irrigation, let us irrigate the farms with overhead or sprinkler irrigation. Using this system, we can monitor the amount of water that is used to water the plants and conserve that water for other uses besides irrigation like drinking water. The cost of this depends on how big your farm is. A typical 160-acre farm takes $60,000 to put a sprinkler system in this farm. This increases the water efficiency (from flood irrigation) from 60% to 75% (meaning in flood irrigation, 60% of the water put on the crops soaks in, and in sprinkler, 75% of the water is used by the plants). Therefore, if farmers used flood irrigation on this farm, you would use 700 acre-feet to irrigate it, and if you used sprinkler, you would only have to use 595 acre-feet of water it (an acre-foot is how much water is in one acre of land one foot deep).
Our fourth proposal involves L.A. conserving water. Instead of having, big lawns with a lot of plants and flowers that take up a lot of water, L.A. should have desert landscaping to conserve water that can be used elsewhere. In that desert landscaping have cactuses, rocks, and plants that are adapted to the desert environment. The typical cost of a half an acre front yard would be between twenty and thirty thousand dollars. Now this cost would include a rock garden, fine dirt, and two different types of cactuses. This might seem more expensive, but in the end the zero landscaping pays for itself, because you do not have extensive water bills and saves money.
L.A. is a desert. Dont you remember that it was a little settlement that looked like New Mexico? Since Los Angeles was a desert (once) and, lawns in that area would need more water than in a wetter area like Florida anyway. Lawns take up so much water for irrigation, that it is a waste of water that can especially be used for drinking and other purposes. Using this desert landscaping, less water can be wasted and you can still have a decent looking yard with the rocks, dirt, and cactuses and have a more natural looking landscape to that specific area anyway.
As you can see, the Central Valley is a very important place not only for California, but also for the United States and the world. We provide California with one third of their yearly income just by growing crops. We think that L.A. should think things through before they even think about taking water from us. L.A. needs to conserve water before they can go looking for more. Thank you SRS Supreme Court for reviewing our case.
The Thirsty Land-By Robert de Roos, Published by Stanford University Press
The Great Thirst-By Norris Hundley JR., Published by University of California Press
Water and Arid Lands of the Western United States-By Mohamed T.El-Ashry and Diana C. Gibbons
Cadillac Desert-Movie series and Book by Marc Reisner Published by, Penguin Books
Encarta 2000-CD Rom
Western Water Made Simple-By the editors of High Country News’ Published by Island Press
Cbo-Water Use Conflicts in the West Implications of Reforming of Reclamations Water Supply Politics-By The Congress of the United States, August 1997
The Great Central Valley, Californias Heartland-By, Stephen Johnson, Gerald Haslam, and Robert Dawson: Published by The University of California Press
The Reno Gazette Journal- By Robert Jablon, Article entitled, Seven States Discuss Plan to Curb Californias Water Habit
The Water Fact book, California Agriculture and Its Use of Water- By The California Farm Water Coalition,
Tom MaDermitt, Research Analysis College of Agriculture-Interview
Mike Nelson, President and CEO of Aqua Designs-Interview
Tom Kelly, Engineer with Washoe County Water Resources Utilities Services Division-Interview