No other state in the country has a larger agricultural output than California so it is no doubt that this industry is a very important part of California’s economy. And with our population always growing, how can we ensure a strong agriculture output?
One key factor is the availability of water. About half of California’s water is used for environmental purposes such as maintaining habitats and scenic rivers or keeping seawater out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which is an important source of our drinking water. Another 40 percent of California’s water is used for agricultural irrigation, while urban usage represents the remaining ten percent.
Technological innovation has allowed for agricultural and urban water usage to decline although farm production and the population continues to grow each year. This is good news for the environment as well as the economy.
While an independent California will continue to foster the technological innovation and promote the environmental conservation that has led to the decline in water usage across California, independence means we can actually increase the water supply. More water means California’s $2.75 trillion economy – now the fifth largest in the world – can continue to expand because farmers will be able to grow more crops and we as a nation will be able to support our ever-growing population.
In normal years, the snow pack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water as it melts in the spring and early summer. The larger the snow pack, the greater the likelihood California’s reservoirs will receive ample runoff. However, this snow and the associated runoff is on federal lands and managed by federal agencies subject to the federal budget.
The problem is the federal government is mismanaging these lands by allowing the forests of the Sierra Nevada mountains to become too dense. Not only does that negatively affect the health of our forests and increase the likelihood of forest fires, which the state and federal governments this year acknowledged in the midst of this years record-breaking wildfires.
Talks of allowing California’s timber industry to help thin out the forests, combined with strategic planned burns, are both steps in the right direction. But aside from the elevated risk of wildfire, more trees means that more water is being consumed and therefore there is less runoff to accumulate in reservoirs.
As an independent country, we will take control of our forests. This will put us in position to increase mechanical thinning and restore meadows. In doing so, we will allow our beautiful Sequoias to grow and flourish, reduce the threat of forest fires, and increase the water supply available for hydro-power, agriculture, and urban water usage – the economic benefits of which would be sufficient to cover the costs of these restoration projects.
Not only has the federal government mismanaged our forests but they have also been allowing private corporations to extract California’s groundwater from these forests with permits that have been expired since the late 1980s. While this does not represent a huge portion of our water supply, every drop counts.
An independent California will have oversight authority to not only make sure that private companies extracting our groundwater for profit are operating with valid permits, but also that they adequately compensate the people of California for this precious resource. The federal government permits these companies to extract millions of gallons of our water for just $527 a year!
On top of all this, because we will no longer be subsidizing other states and also spending less on the military, an independent California will have more money to pay for the maintenance of existing water infrastructure facilities. We will also be able to afford new water infrastructure projects, including Eco-friendly desalination.