San Joaquin Valley


Keeping Central Valley Crops and People Safe From Floods: A Costly Proposition

Big plans to revamp the Valley’s piecemeal flood management system…if there’s money for it

Now that the state’s revamped Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (big PDF) is out for public perusal, the question is whether the political will — and the cash — will be there to make it happen.

California's status as an agricultural powerhouse is largely due to the fertile lands in the Central Valley, which are also prone to floods.

The Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins run through the valley and can overflow their banks threatening more than a million people and an estimated $69 billion in assets, according to the report. The current flood management system has been in place for about a hundred years and was designed specifically to keep water from the rivers off the land so that people could grow crops. Now the system has varied uses including conservation of habitat, water supply and water quality. The old system really isn’t up to the job anymore and almost everyone agrees that it will take a serious investment to bring it up to snuff.

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Deconstructing the Drought

A new report disputes some alleged impacts to the Central Valley from water restrictions, reveals others

(Photo: Craig Miller)

Blame the housing recession, not water restrictions. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Oakland-based Pacific Institute, which scrutinizes the connection between cutbacks in farm water deliveries and Central Valley job losses during California’s recent three-year drought.

Impacts of the 2007-2009 California Drought: What Really Happened? is described by its authors as a “nine-month assessment of new data from California’s agricultural, energy, and environmental sectors.”

Its main finding, that “Farm job losses were largely unrelated to water constraints,” appears to be a direct refutation of claims by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Fresno), and others, that regulatory and court-ordered restrictions on water deliveries have caused “massive unemployment” in the San Joaquin Valley. Continue reading