There is an old saying in the West that goes like this. “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.”
While the real author of that quote has been in doubt for many years, the truth of that statement has never been in doubt.
Westerners have been fighting over this dwindling resource since the mid-1800s when the first farmer dammed up a creek for their crops and the ranchers who needed it for their cows tore down the dam.
Many times someone got killed in the process.
As the West grew in the 1920s and 30s the battles shifted from farmer against rancher to state versus state as they fought over who had the rights to the plentiful water of the Colorado River that flows from the central Rockies across the vast Colorado plateau passing through Arizona and Nevada at Lake Mead and then ending up in the Gulf of Mexico.
Today 30 million people depend on that water but with all the growth the West has experienced in the last century the Colorado is slowly being drained of its magic elixir.
We here in California depend on two sources for our water– Mother Nature in the form of rain and water from the Colorado River.
Lately Mother Nature has not provided, and our share of the Colorado River water is being slowly curtailed. The result is we are now in a severe drought.
We have been here before and we had the same governor. In 1976-77 during Jerry’s first term we had a very severe drought.
Those of us old enough, remember the phrase, “If it’s brown flush it down but if it’s yellow it’s mellow.” For many Californians the “brown” they wanted to flush down sat in the Governor’s Office
It was Jerry Brown’s “era of limits.”
He stopped building dams, reservoirs and aqueducts to store and carry water and he stopped building freeways under the foolish notion that if we didn’t build these things folks wouldn’t emigrate to the Golden State. Well we didn’t and they did.
In 1970 our population was 20 million. It is now 38 million and in all that time we have not built one new reservoir to catch the rain when it does fall.
The last major water storage was Lake Oroville completed in 1968, yet our population has nearly doubled since then.
The 70s also saw the rise of the environmental movement and California politicians started taking their cues from these folks and not the ranchers, farmers and manufacturers that produced all the economic growth, jobs and taxes that made us the envy of the world.
We were bombarded with all kinds of futuristic ideas and plans about protecting the environment that looked good on paper but in practicality didn’t pan out.
Jerry Brown once said, “The reason that everybody likes planning is that nobody has to do anything.” And that pretty well sums up why we are where we are today.
All talk and no action. Jerry did nothing to address our water woes in his first go round as governor in the 1970s and in fact it was his crackpot ideas that put us right where we are today.
Now as we face another crippling drought and all Jerry Brown seems to say is “I can’t make it rain.”
To be fair none of the Republican governors who followed him did anything either to address our chronic water shortage–a perfect bipartisan mess.
The bottom line is that California has painted itself into a corner that will not be easy to get out of without messing up the floor we already painted.
Build new dams or reservoirs?
No say the High Priests of the Church of the Enlightened Environmentalists!
Build desalination plants to draw water from the vast Pacific Ocean?
Try that and you will be burned at the stake! Of course the stake will be made of recycled paper products!
For as long as Californians elect politicians who bow at the altar of radical environmentalism, the situation will only get worse.
And because we put this off for so long the price will be mighty expensive.
We should all remember the simple cowboy wisdom, “Doin’ things the smart way don’t cost half as much as doing ‘em the stupid way.”
When it comes to water we have been doing things the stupid way for far too long.
Jerry Brown now wants to address the issue he should have addressed back in the 70s when we had fewer people.
Environmental extremism has finally met reality. And reality won.
Now the question is what are we going to do about it.
Patrick Dorinson is a talk radio talk show host for KFBK radio in Sacramento, a columnist for Fox News and commentator who unlike many so-called pundits, has actually been in the arena and has the battle scars to prove it. He has been on both sides of the aisle and in the aisle itself, having worked over the last 25 year for Republicans and Democrats in both politics and government.