Drought effect on labor looming large

03/27/2014 07:23:00 AM
Tom Karst

I remember my father, Lynden Eastes telling me stories from his work in the early 1930s (when he worked for the Arizona Water Users as a ‘sanjero’ or water-canal manager in the Salt River Project of Arizona). Engineers surveying where to put canals in the greater Salt River Valley (Phoenix) noted that there were linear indentations snaking across the desert exactly where they were intent on digging future canals to distribute water from Roosevelt Dam throughout Maricopa County. It seems the Hohokam had done the work before them in the 1100-1400 AD period. Perhaps, this is a ‘sign from the past’—let’s hope not, because there are millions of people who now live in the area, not just a few Native American tribes trying to provide water to grow corn and beans.

Here in the San Joaquin Valley, there will be thousands of acres that will not be planted to melons, tomatoes, onions, or even cotton because there will not be enough water to farm these crops. The land will sit fallow. The repercussions will radiate from unemployment to higher food prices and perhaps some scarcity of some foods.

 It is not just time to ‘start thinking about it’, but doing something about it before it is forced on the greater Southwest.

 

Thanks to Rick for his strong insight and perspective on this critical and sobering crisis. 


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