John Fleck's water news


As California hyperventilates about drought, economist Jeff Michael offered up some optimistic statistics last week: In the midst of last year's epic drought conditions, agricultural employment in the Central Valley's three hardest hit counties went up. It didn't get nearly as much attention as the latest abysmal snowpack numbers or the pending extinction of the delta smelt, but maybe it should. Snowpack is a measure of how much water we've got, while agricultural employment is a measure of what we do with it. It's not the whole story, but it's a key part of it. If drought matters because of its impact on human communities, this second set of data seems like it ought to get some attention too. What it suggests, Michael argues, is that farmers are adapting to drought with shifts in their operations that are softening the disruptions. The disruptions are still there, but may not be as apocalyptic as the hyperventilation would suggest. His ideas are worth a click.

Water news

From the wonks

  • Economist Alex Tabarrok: "California has plenty of water…just not enough to satisfy every possible use of water that people can imagine when the price is close to zero."
  • Lynne Kiesling (another economist): "California’s drought is a failure to implement institutional change consistent with environmental and economic sustainability."
  • Fisheries biologist Peter Moyle suggest we prepare for the extinction of the delta smelt, the little fish that has driven so much intractable California water politics.

Stuff I wrote

My blog: jfleck at inkstain
Picture of the week: For World Water Day yesterday, Lissa and I went for a walk along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. The river has been up the last couple of days, the highest since last summer. I could worry that it's high because of crazy early melt. Or I could just enjoy it. A little of both.
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