California Wars for Water in the Delta

Don't like to read?


California is in danger of depleting one of the most precious commodities known to man, water. With droughts occurring more often throughout the southern part of the state, the northern half dukes it out over a body of water that, if incorrectly rationed, could either kill endangered fish or cause farmers major distress. Both scenarios are a catastrophic issue for farmers and environmental groups alike. In light of the need to ration H2O, California wars for water on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in the midst of a drought that seemingly has no winning side.

There was once a time when droughts in California did not seem to be an actual topic of concern, especially since people had fresh water coming to their homes by the gallons. One could walk out of their home, turn on the water hose and have fresh water that was more than drinkable. Families had wonderful, plush, green grass they watered without hesitation based on the knowledge that water was everywhere and in no real danger of running out. There could not possibly ever be a shortage of water, or so people thought. However, somewhere along the lines water started being bottled. News channels were warning households of the danger that could occur from drinking tap water. Many families and avid water drinkers thought to themselves how utterly absurd it all sounded.

At least three decades later, California is now among many states that have had to ration water, both city and statewide. Cities such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, and even all the way to Orange County people have been warned about the over usage of their water. Los Angeles residents have, within the last six months, received letters warning that if a household is found to be using too much water they will be fined by the Department of Water and Power.

Nevertheless, the northern cities of California are in a battle all their own. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is one of the largest water sources known in the state. As of late, the droughts have made the outpouring of the water source a large conundrum. Environmental groups are petitioning to save the wildlife of the delta; according to them, two types of fish indigenous to the area are endangered. If water is continually taken from the delta both fish risk extinction. However, California farmers say that without the proper amount of water, their crops and harvests will suffer, leaving millions of people without proper goods.

The fight lies in each group putting their cause and needs for the delta supply before the other. However, state government acknowledges that both causes (reasons included) are equally important. California cannot risk putting endangered fish on the extinction list, nor can they allow for the crops to suffer, as San Joaquin Valley is the state’s agricultural heartbeat. Many say that California’s proactivity to create a more eco-friendly water system has inadvertently made the problem worse, as many believe that one can not expect to put man-made things into place where mother nature should rule and run free.

In any case, droughts throughout California have caused even a San Diego Navy base to reduce its water use. Reports have been made that the base has reduced water over 23 percent since 2007. In addition, they have allowed many of the fields to simply turn brown while switching to drought-resistant foliage and terrain throughout the base. As California wars for water on the delta, it is unclear as to how these droughts and the rationing of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water supply will play out for the state. Many citizens are up in arms as to how to survive what is predicted to be an excruciating summer.

Opinion by Danyol Jaye

Edited by Chanel van der Woodsen


New York Times: Troubled Delta System Is California’s Water Battleground
LA Times: Navy bases do their part to conserve water in California drought
NBC News: California Drought – NBC News

Photo Courtesy of Chris Farrar – U.S. Geological Survey’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License