The construction of the great water projects that allowed California to grow into the most productive state in the country, at the time included building Auburn Dam and building Shasta Dam 200 feet higher than it now is, which we noted in an earlier post.
Had both these projects been completed, California would have had enough water—and flood protection—for the foreseeable future, saving billions beyond the estimated cost of both of those projects.
This editorial in the San Jose Mercury News notes the importance of water storage for the future of California’s agricultural industry.
“If California does not provide an adequate water supply at reasonable cost to its agricultural industry, competition from globalization will soon turn the state into a Third World country.
“Most of the people working to find a solution to California water problems seem to have a hard time understanding the economic impact that the lack of water at reasonable prices has on the economy and how this directly affects working families and the state's tax base.
“Additionally, this great state has been able to export food products, within the United States and internationally, at reasonable prices. That, in effect, has raised the standard of living for all those consumers. We must have a reliable source of water to be able to continue growing these much-needed commodities at fair prices.
“When agricultural land is abandoned or fruit trees and grape vines are taken out because of the lack of water, the assessed value of the property goes down. This results in decreased revenues for local services, thereby resulting in the loss of jobs for working families. Additionally, there is a measurable decrease in the income from production, which reduces income taxes by billions of dollars to the state and federal governments.
“We must change the direction in which we have been going and make an investment to come up with new, innovative ways to support the agricultural endeavors that we've already developed to help move our economy forward.
“A first need to alleviate the shortage of water supply to our growing population is to build reservoir systems that store more rainwater in the winter rainy season to be used for frost protection during the spring months and for irrigation during the dry summers.
“The sale of water would more than repay the cost of development of these reservoirs. The savings realized from building fish-friendly reservoirs that replenish themselves with each winter's rains at no cost should be evident to the governor and the Legislature. These reservoirs need to be built high in the mountains so there is gravity flow, thus cutting down on the cost of operation.
“Back in the early 1960s, I invested $100,000 in a reliable water supply by building five reservoirs to solve our frost and irrigation problems for a 175-acre vineyard. Over the years, the savings compared to buying the water have computed to more than $1.5 million.”