Email L. Henry Platt, Jr.
LET THE FARMERS PAY
In California some of the myopic bureaucrats want to let the farmers who actually produce a product pay the "peace" price to satisfy the skillful lobbyists who represent small but vocal minorities. The focus of current arguments is the delta smelt, a small fish that has been swimming, breeding, and living in the Sacramento-San Joaquin estuary for centuries.
Beginning in the eighteenth century these rivers began to be used for irrigation to enhance and support agriculture. This was a great success rivaling only the discovery of gold in bringing wealth, people, and prosperity to the San Joaquin Valley. Then in 1981 sport fishermen and their lobbyists persuaded the bureaucrats in Sacramento to encourage the Fish and Game Department to stock these rivers with invasive species of fish, notably the Large Mouth Bass and the Striped Bass, which eat far more delta smelt than irrigation pumps could ever kill. Sport fishermen were very happy, but the population of delta smelt declined as they became a favorite food of the bass.
As the twenty-first century began, another group of lobbyists were hired to represent the interests of the lowly delta smelt. Since no court could order the bass to stop eating the delta smelt, the environmental lobbyists forced the irrigationists to turn off the pumps, save a few delta smelt that the bass hadn't eaten, and severely punish the farmers whose hard work provided the product that supports all of the other players.
I am praying for rain, not spectacular, flooding rain, but ample, gentle rain to quench the thirst of the parched soil and the longsuffering farmers.
Epilogue: The farmers have not lost their water.
© L. Henry Platt, Jr.