Surprisingly, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other major media have provided recent coverage of the nation’s drought crisis. It now extends from the Mississippi River, which is drying up, all the way West. Unsurprisingly, they blame this on “climate change.”
As this author has repeatedly documented, the drought in the Western states is the result of long-term weather cycles in the western United States dating back centuries. Prior to the recent 170 years, the climate of the West had been dominated by alternating mega floods and mega droughts. This results from the Sun’s cycles and has nothing to do with the anthropogenic climate change myth—a myth created by the oligarchy to facilitate their radical depopulation schemes and their continuing control of the economy. According to the January 3, 2021, New York Times article, “Wall Street Eyes Billions in the Colorado’s Water,” the vultures and predators are already circling overhead. They are looking to make billions speculating on water just as their energy deregulation schemes destroyed access to reliable electricity at any reasonable price.
The only sense in which humans can be held responsible for the present situation is in the total lack of modern infrastructure, large scale water projects, and advances in weather modification designed to meet the known long-term weather challenges of this part of the United States. For example, the California water management system, built by Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Governor Pat Brown over 50 years ago, has not been modernized since. This must be reversed now lest the West become a desert. Something like the proposed North American Water and Power Alliance design to harness water downstream from Alaska and Canada must begin to be constructed now along with large scale desalinization projects powered by small nuclear reactors.
This should form a major piece of President Trump’s economic perspective for 2024 for which we will campaign under LaRouche PAC’s Project Prometheus. The keystone battleground states in the nation’s heartland, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania will be the producers of the machinery, reactors, and large earth moving equipment, among other items, necessary to turn NAWPA into a reality. With it, President Trump can add the battleground states of Arizona and Nevada to his win column. If present trends are not reversed, residents of Nevada and Arizona will be struggling to find a glass of water, or air conditioning, or even electric fans come 2024. By 2024, also, the nation could be in a major food crisis due to the forced death of the fruit, vegetable, rice, and other food production which comes from California’s Central and Imperial Valleys and parts of Arizona.
Here is the situation as of the first week of December 2022.
The Bureau of Reclamation last week released a statement warning that a fourth year of drought is most likely for California, and that water districts and cities of the state should expect even deeper cuts in water deliveries than they received this year. Cities and industrial users receiving water from the Central Valley Project must prepare for a fourth year of drought and possibly “extremely limited water supply” during 2023.
On December 1st, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced an initial State Water Project (SWP) allocation of just 5 percent of requested supplies for 2023. The SWP provides water to 29 public water agencies that serve 27 million Californians. The DWR also announced that in preparation for another dry year it is prepared to take further action. In other words, the five percent may be cut even further.
Deliveries of water to agriculture ranged from zero water allocations in some areas of the state to near normal levels in others, with the mean probably being at well below 50% of what was needed and requested. Rice production, centered in the Sacramento area, saw about one-half of the normal acres planted this year. More generally as many as one million acres of irrigated farmland was fallowed. That is ten percent of all the irrigated acreage in the state.
It is estimated that farmers lost as much as $2 billion in income. 12,000 agricultural jobs were lost in 2022. As acreage is fallowed, not only are jobs in the field lost, but businesses in especially small communities are devastated as purchases of farm inputs collapse. Seed, fertilizer, fuel, and farm machinery businesses, and the businesses serving the farm population suffered drastic losses.
When water from the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project ceases to be delivered, growers pump more water from the aquifers to keep their crops alive. The consequence of doing so increases land subsidence, the sinking of the land, and damages roads, aqueducts, and other infrastructure. As a result, at least 1,400 wells have dried up this year, some of them serving whole small communities as well as individual properties. The county or the state must provide trucked in water to make up for the loss.
Earlier this year the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people, began rationing to six million of those citizens. The California State Water Project in normal years delivers as much as four-million-acre feet to Southern California. For the last couple of years that has been reduced by 95%. In addition, Southern California also receives more than four million-acre feet from the Colorado River, now in a crisis impacting every state where the river flows.
The Colorado River
The Colorado River provides all the water for more than 40 million people in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and northern Mexico. In addition, more than five million people rely on the electricity produced by Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona and Hoover Dam—which spans the Nevada/Arizona state line.
One hundred years ago, the Federal government brokered an agreement dividing up the water of the river. The annual flow of the river was apportioned, with the assumption that that flow would always be 16-million-acre feet annually.
Since the year 2000 the Colorado River Basin has been in a megadrought. The flow of the river is now 11-million-acre feet per year, but the states have continued to take as much as 16-million-acre feet each year. As a result, the reservoirs behind Glen Canyon Dam (Lake Powell) and behind Hoover Dam (Lake Mead) are now at or below 25% capacity. The forecast for both is that unless dramatic reductions of the amount of water taken from the river occur now, both reservoirs could reach “dead pool” by the summer of 2024. Dead pool would mean that the dams would no longer produce electricity and water could no longer be withdrawn to serve the 40 million people who depend upon it.
Last June, the Bureau of Reclamation issued a warning and an “order,” requiring the states to come to a voluntary agreement to reduce what is withdrawn from the river by two to four-million-acre feet annually, beginning in 2023. According to the order, unless an agreement was reached by August, the Bureau would impose its own plan. The Bureau punted when the states could not come to an agreement. While the states will meet once again this coming week to attempt to come to an agreement, if the last few months of dithering, blaming other states, and posturing from all of them is once again the real agenda, then the Bureau will have no other choice than to impose its plan.
The Imperial Valley of California and the agricultural area around Tucson, Arizona are agricultural powerhouses, critical for the nation's food supply. Not only are they major producers of fruits and vegetables year-round, but they also produce upwards of 80% of the winter vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, spinach and more) for the entire nation. Last Saturday at the supermarket, I saw lettuce at $3.50 a head. That is a warning—if not this winter, then the next, lettuce will be double or more beyond even that price. The Central Valley and the Imperial Valley of California produce more than 50% of the fruits and vegetables that the entire nation consumes. For nuts, like walnuts, pistachios, and almonds, the percentage is over 80%.
The talk and proposals for reducing withdrawals from the river by two- to four-million-acre feet annually, include paying farmers to take land out of production. Agriculture does use about 80% of the water withdrawn from the river, so the reduction of withdrawals must hit agriculture in all seven states severely. Proposals have been made by the federal government, the state governments, water districts and farm organizations for such payments. Those proposals range from $100 to $1,500 for each acre foot a farmer does not use. To achieve the amount required involves billions of dollars. So far, even the $250 million pledged by the Biden “Inflation Reduction” policy, and vague promises from some of the states for funding, does not make a real dent in what would be required. As noted above, fallowing the land will also devastate businesses in the farm areas and throw thousands of workers out of work.
Academics and some federal and state water officials from California argue that California must take more than one million acres permanently out of production to deal with drought and limited water. Previously, only the most extreme environmentalist organizations dared to utter such nonsense. In addition, Wall Street speculators and hedge funds have arrived in the Western states and begun purchasing land and associated water rights in rural areas—with plans to sell the water at vastly inflated prices to urban areas threatened with losing access to water.
It's Time for Trump Time Leadership
Many years ago, a crisis like the drought crisis presently engulfing the nation’s West, would have brought forth leaders who acted from the principle of “crisis solutions” rather than “crisis management.” Even before crises erupted, those leaders would look decades into the future and act to build what would be required for generations to come. We had leaders like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Kennedy, who mobilized the federal government to build some of the greatest water projects in human history.
FDR, during the Depression, built the largest dam in the world—the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. He made sure that Hoover Dam would be completed, and it was. His Tennessee Valley Authority not only modernized the entire Southeast but became a model project for the world. FDR built the Central Valley Project in California, the largest and most complex water management system in the world. During 1962 and 1963, President Kennedy initiated and dedicated six major water projects in the western half of the nation, which still today are critical elements of a comprehensive water supply system for agriculture and the region’s cities. In the early 1960s, Kennedy joined with California Governor Pat Brown to build the California State Water Project that today provides water to 29 million people in the state.
In January of 2017, the threatened collapse of Oroville Dam provided a more recent example of the type of leadership required for the current crisis, albeit because of nature forcing decisive action. The dam, north of Sacramento, is the tallest dam in the United States. During a tremendous series of storms, its reservoir topped out. The spillway, used to drain the excess water, began to disintegrate. The flow of water over an emergency spillway began to collapse the dam itself. Had the dam collapsed, it would have sent a wall of water 50 feet high down the valley below the dam. 200,000 people, in dead panic, attempted to flee to higher ground. The original spillway was reopened and the water which was released destroyed it but saved the dam itself.
Rebuilding the spillway under the present regulatory regime would have taken years. Instead, contracts for rebuilding the spillway were signed in one week and construction began a week later. The construction schedule matched the urgency of repairing the spillway before the next winter began. That was seven days a week and three shifts a day. The new spillway was completed in less than one year, costing over $1 billion. Nothing was allowed to get in the way.
Which leads to a discussion of medium and long-term policy solutions.
To build the Carlsbad desalination plant in San Diego County, Poseidon, the owner, went through about 15 years of permitting and environmentalist lawsuits. But, following final approval, construction took one year, and the plant began producing drinkable water in 2015. The Poseidon desalination plant produces 56,000-acre feet of fresh water per year—about 10% of the water supply of San Diego County.
Would building more desalination plants in California provide a complete solution? No, but it could alleviate some of the shortages, especially along the Pacific Ocean coast, where most of the people in the state live. It could also ameliorate California’s need to draw from the Colorado River.
But thinking about building 30 plants the size of the Carlsbad plant, immediately runs into another problem. Desalination requires a great deal of electricity, and California, and the nation, already do not produce enough electricity for current consumption. That is where the use of small nuclear reactors comes into the picture. Thirty plants could produce 1,680,000 acre-feet of fresh water annually, a small component of the amount of water required to substantially alleviate the water crisis in the state. Some of those plants could also be built in the Central Valley agricultural area, to desalinate brackish water.
Other proposals, which depend on the drought ending, include the building of new reservoirs to store more water when the state does have a wet winter. One of the proposals, Sites Reservoir, west of Sacramento, has been partially funded now. But construction time for this two-million-acre foot reservoir is estimated to be ten years. The proposal to raise Shasta Dam by about 10 feet would increase the holding capacity of Lake Shasta by more than two-million-acre feet. Additional advanced water recycling and regenerative farming practices will also mitigate against total disaster.
What about the long-term solution?
For decades the LaRouche Political Action Committee has supported and issued many reports on the one solution that will create an integrated North American continental water management system. That policy is the North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA). You can see this proposal here. First proposed in the early 1960s by the Parsons Engineering Company of Pasadena, CA, this proposal gained serious support in the U. S. Congress.
In summary, the project would move 100 million acre-feet of water from the Alaska rivers by dams, canals, tunnels, and aqueducts down through Canada to the U.S. A branch of the project would go to irrigate the Canadian Prairie provinces. Then when the water entered the U.S., one branch would go to the mid-west to boost the Ogallala Aquifer. The other would go to the southwest states, with even a branch to Mexico. Additionally, the science of weather modification, the prospect of producing rain from the rivers which exist in the atmosphere, has stalled due to a lack of resources, and sustained scientific inquiry.
Unfortunately, as in the case of the manned space program, Kennedy's policy to build nuclear-powered desalination plants, and virtually all long-term infrastructure projects throughout the nation—NAWAPA included— died as the nation was sucked into the Vietnam War. The process of turning our financial system into a casino began its long march in 1971 when President Nixon killed the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate international monetary system. Every decade since saw more and more deregulation of the financial system by Wall Street and its tool, the Federal Reserve.
So, only if the political revolution that LaRouche PAC has put forth becomes the fighting idea of the American people will it be possible to not just solve the West’s water problem but to, more importantly, rescue the nation. LaRouche PAC recently published a document that shows the way forward. Here is the link to, “Introducing Project Prometheus: Make the Leap to the Future; Build a 2024 MAGA Shock Wave in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.”
A second piece, by Brian Lantz, outlines aspects of the nuclear renaissance which can solve the nation’s energy needs. “Project Prometheus: Building Hundreds of Nuclear Power Plants to Make America Great Again.”
Building NAWPA, along with the immediate construction of nuclear-powered desalination plants, implementation of significant modern water recycling and regenerative agricultural techniques, along with a significant emphasis on the science of weather modification, represent a solution to the West’s pending natural disaster. It goes without saying, of course, that Wall Street’s land and water rights speculators need to be barred from the area. The sooner this is started, the sooner we step away from the precipice.