Since water rights are not fully tradeable, we cannot really assert that. Ie whilst it is true that California supplies the winter salads for North America, plus as you note almonds etc (although that agriculture has had some pretty frightening consequences for the bee/ apiary industry) that might not be as high a value as the economy places on other industry and residential needs in CA.interplanetjanet wrote:Central California still contains some of the most fertile farmland around, and much of it is worth irrigating even at high cost. California grows 80% of the world's almonds - that alone takes up something like 10% of the water used by the state. Agriculture is very big business here.Valuethinker wrote:Is anyone allowed to irrigate anything in California right now?
I'm mostly planting "yard" areas with drought-tolerant native species. I'm not a big believer in expanses of grass, and allergies are no small part of that. I got such allergic reactions from running through fields growing up.
It's the economics of opportunity cost. If you live in a very high wage place like Switzerland, say, although a house cleaner might get paid say $20k Swiss Francs pa (c. USD 24k), the Swiss are not the house cleaners-- there are too many attractive higher paying options available to them. In America say there are waves of people to do those jobs for say $16k, but less so in some very rich places.
CA is one of the world's most affluent regions (if not the most affluent, up there with Munich area at least). So if 1 gallon of water generates higher value for Intel making chips or for Hollywood residents (remembering Angelina Jolie is herself probably worth something like $1bn in GDP, simply from the extra value she brings to movie ticket sales) then in a truly free market, the price will rise until it matches the marginal benefit to those high value add users.
What I *think* is going on is that CA doesn't have a state wide water market, nor a state wide water movement network. So if it is used in a lower value add activity in the Central Valley, that's not stripping water away from LA. And if the water is a 'right' that a farmer in the Central Valley has, but cannot sell, then it is rational for him to consume that water.
This all works (sort of) until you get a situation like now, where as I understand it, water supply is now so far below 'normal' (our perception of normal may just be wrong, there are 200 year periods in the tree ring record of southern California, where it *did not rain*) that push is coming to shove.
However as I say if that water can't get out of the Central Valley or its 'owners' can't sell it, then that is all academic.
It won't be academic if this all goes on another 2-3 years, as I understand the problem. People are going to start to have to move.