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Why is Providing Water For People Controversial? June 4, 2024

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By Charles Carner

Water is essential for human survival.  Throughout history, civilization has flourished where water is plentiful – and been challenged where it is scarce.  In the early centuries of the Christian Era, the Romans mastered large-scale water engineering through its aqueduct systems – knowledge which, after the Fall of Rome – was then lost for more than a thousand years.  In modern times, moving water where people are or want to be is practiced worldwide.  And no state in these United States of America moves more water than California – which manages about 40 million acre-feet annually.

In an average year, 200 million acre-feet of water falls on California in the form of rain and snow (per California Water Watch).  About 50% of this H2O, roughly 100 million acre-feet, is utilized.  About half of that, 40-50 million acre-feet, is designated for “environmental use” [as stated by the Public Policy Institute:  protected wild and scenic rivers (63%); instream ecosystem use (18%); water quality maintenance for agriculture and cities (15%); and wetlands within wildlife preserves (4%)]. Urban use is about 10% (ranging from 5-8 million acre-feet annually).  Agriculture consumes 40% (25-32 million acre-feet).

Every few years, California rainfall is below average – sometimes for two or three years in a row.  When this happens, panic is spread throughout the cyberverse, with shrieking headlines like “Permanent Drought!” and “The End of Snow!”  The government springs into action, subsidizing low-flow toilets that require multiple flushes (thus demanding more actual flow), telling people to stop watering their lawns, replace grass with gravel, and to take shorter showers.  Farmers who depend on surface water from the State Water Project or the Central Valley Project suffer from drastic cuts in allocations.

When the dry years are followed by a wet winter or two, California’s inadequate reservoir system (built when the state had 20 million people – half the current population) is filled to bursting – and many millions of acre-feet of “runoff” wash out to sea.

The pattern repeats itself, decade after decade.  Minor tweaking adjustments are made around the edges, but nothing substantive changes.  Gridlock.  Paralysis.  The needs of the people – the primary duty of government – go unmet.

California is the most populous state in the union.  California agricultural land is the most productive in the world.  Golden State farms provide over a third of America’s vegetables, and three-quarters of the nation’s fruits and nuts (according to the CA Dept of Food & Agriculture).  Making sure that California’s citizens and farmers have enough water should be at the top of governmental priority lists.

But is it?  I don’t think so.  Any effort to change the status quo in water policy is met with ferocious resistance and costly, time-consuming litigation.  “I want farmers and people to have enough water,” is a controversial statement.

Why?  With so many people, and so much vital agriculture, why is there splenetic argument about providing water for human use?  Why are endless political battles fought over prioritizing water for Californians to drink, and food for them to eat?  Ask any man in the street:  If your daughter were dying of thirst, would you give her a drink or make sure the goldfish bowl was full?

It comes down to this:  common sense.  Once a prized human attribute, universally respected.  Now apparently rarer than mud puddles in the Mojave Desert.

Water policy in California needn’t be an all-or-nothing, zero-sum game.  Conservation is a good idea; “waste not, want not” as the hoary proverb goes.  Stormwater capture, groundwater recharge, and increasing desalination are all fine ways to increase the usable water supply.

But while those good things are happening, there needs to be a fundamental change in the equation of how they are applied.  Let’s put people – California’s citizens and her citizen farmers – first.

This is what WellJet® does every day.  The patented high-pressure hydrojetting process restores flow and efficiency in groundwater wells from the Salton Sea to Shasta Lake, and Eureka to Blythe, providing plentiful and affordable water for farmers, crops, urban dwellers, rural residents, businesses and municipalities.  WellJet® reduces the cost, energy consumption and carbon footprint of groundwater production, while extending the working lifespan of vital infrastructure.

Water is essential for human survival.  WellJet® is essential for groundwater production.  The best is yet to come!

For more information about WellJet contact: Charlie Carner at 818/292-7135 or

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