The Delta issue is a complicated topic, and one with far-ranging impacts (HCN, 12/20/10). But the writer missed the following key point: Though the hundreds of millions of dollars that farmers lost last year because of water cutbacks are a tiny fraction of California's $1.74 trillion economy, they hit hard locally.
California's loss in productivity was likely larger than the entire agricultural output of most Western states. Everyone downstream, including all of Southern California, was negatively impacted. Food prices were impacted nationwide. When you consider that California has the eighth-largest agricultural economy in the world, the small loss is really quite large.
Agriculture is the number two or three industry in California, behind only high tech and entertainment. Crop production in my county, San Diego, exceeds the production of several Western states, yet is grown with a fraction of the water used by those states. Currently, the number of jobless ag workers in California exceeds the total number of ag workers in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Nevada combined.
I only hope that we begin to understand the real cost of taking water rights for other beneficial uses.