The Central Valley’s economic model has worked because water was cheap and available; both are changing rapidly.
By Cary D. Lowe, Special to CalMatters
Cary D. Lowe is a retired land use lawyer and planning consultant.
Re “Comparative stats of ag and water use strikes a nerve”; Commentary, Reader Reaction, Feb. 3, 2022
The writer’s defense of agricultural water use only makes sense if you believe the economy and the environment will never change.
Arguing that the Central Valley must remain dependent solely on agriculture, with its accompanying current level of water use, is equivalent to arguing that Appalachian coal miners can’t transition to other forms of employment and shouldn’t need to.
The Valley’s economic model has worked because water was cheap and available; both are changing rapidly. Food production will have to shift to places with more abundant water. As just one alternative for at least parts of the Valley, the Public Policy Institute of California has proposed a gradual transition to solar and other renewable energy facilities, thereby addressing both water and climate concerns.
Rather than trying to hold back the tide of change, the focus should be on developing such alternatives.