In CA it’s always about the water



California is surely not the only part of the U.S. where
water shortages are an issue, but the distribution of water there is
historically controversial with a lengthy and diverse oeuvre of films,
photography, and literature to accompany it. (Chinatown is one of my favorites.)

 So it’s no surprise that water
legislation is once again in the news there
. Part of the controversy now concerns so-called “water buffaloes” calling for
water development by any means necessary, while conservationists try to protect
fish such as delta salmon and smelt, who are threatened by dams and pumps.

It's a gigantic, complex issue. We have two comments about this under the Ballard party garden
post: "Ann” mentions possible subsidies for the Carlsbad flower growers, while
“Liisa”  says (among other
observations), “Many of the largest food suppliers not only get their water
either free or at a ridiculously low cost, they are able to sell it back to the
state. For a state that seems to be suffering from drought every year, this
appears to be folly.” 

I thought I'd give the water issue its own post; Gordon's cantina didn't seem quite the right forum. Water is not the popular beverage there.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. LOL — I’m sorry I ruined the cantina atmosphere with my own personal rantings! It’s only 11AM here on the left coast, but I promise at the stroke of 12:01PM I will go drink something stronger than water as due penance. 🙂

  2. Liisa, it’s worth reposting your rant here as this is an issue generating a lot of interest.

    The agriculture industry in California is unsustainable. Huge fruit and nut monocultures that relie on mercenary polinators and artificial irrigation keep those luxurious things we love to eat cheap and convenient. But all we need is a blight, drought, disease or infestation and everything is wiped out.

  3. “Cheap” is a relative term because we don’t pay the full cost of produce, like cost of empty aquifers, cost of transportation, and environmental damage.

    Some ecologists have said that coming wars will be fought for water, not oil. If you live in CA or AZ you can already see how this may be true.

    Water use is a very complex issue with many stakeholders. Thank you for bringing this issue into discussion.

  4. Oh, I belong in this group of people! So many things to say! We need so many more people to say it! I grew up in L.A., but now I live in Southern Oregon, and the relationships to water are so diverse between the two! In L.A., the talk is all about personal conservation (while you’re drinking your bottled water), in the Central Valleys, it’s like you say suzq — monocultural agribusiness. But here in So OR, it’s all about the farmer versus the fisherman. We’ve invested in rainbarrels, but we’re moving toward an underground rain capture system, because I agree with Carole — wars in the future will be fought over water. Oh, thank you for chiming in! 🙂

  5. Arnold looks good. Everyone complains because we want more.
    I got people laughing behind my back because I’m not that hot and my ideas suck.
    My town would rather shop elsewhere than with the plant master.

  6. Common names are missleading.
    I love latin because it is more scientific. Them hoes trying to make a buck might be right. I suck!

  7. Water, even in RI which gets 42″ per year, should get more respect as it is essential to all life. I would like to see new homes equipped with underground cisterns to collect rainwater for use. Might be a problem in CA but shouldn’t available water limit population growth in these areas before it is the other way around?

  8. Although things are changing, water wastage is IMMENSE; lawns in some Western cities used as much as 60% of the water supply.

    Even ignoring that, there simply CAN’T be ever-larger population centers in areas lacking in basic natural resources. The attitude of “I can live anywhere, and steal what I need from anywhere else…” (and live any lifestyle I want) just isn’t going to “cut it” much longer.

    And as climate changes, the situation in many areas will grow desperate.

    The population of the nation… AND the world… WILL stop growing. How this happens should be… “interesting”.

  9. Layanee and Bob, I wish it were so that resources would limit growth. Consider Las Vegas, NV, that was, until the recent bust, the fastest growing city in the country even as Lake Mead fell 80ft and is at a near-critical level. Seven of the 10 fastest growing cities now are in TX, AZ, or CA. New water restrictions try, but don’t do enough, and water issues are intense in every western state. Things are already desperate, but I don’t think the issues are clear to people living in the east, especially in a summer with so much rain. Google “prairie waters project” and read how Aurora, Co, must build an $800 million water recycling project so that it can drink its own treated water. A gigantic and complex issue is right.

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