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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Saudis Draining Billions of Gallons of Water from Arizona

Alfalfa Farm under irrigation, San Miquel, California
Picture by Ken Figlloll taken 7-22-12, Flickr creative commons
Nestle and other companies that bottle water continue to drain California of its precious water. (Think about what you are doing when you next buy a case or two of bottled water at the store.) But get this: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking billions of gallons of water from Arizona in the form of hay. Because they have drained their own wells, they can no longer raise alfalfa to produce hay to feed their dairy cattle so they bought land in Arizona with good wells. Read or listen to the NPR story, Saudi Hay Farm In Arizona Tests State's Supply Of Groundwater.

As we know in El Paso, alfalfa likes a long growing season that it can get in the desert southwest. Only problem with that is that alfalfa takes lots of water to grow. Long growing season, lots of water, lots of alfalfa, lots of hay. (My English teachers are now spinning in their graves - well, lots of them.)

Besides the fact that the Saudis can now drain our aquifers, it's the reaction by local Arizona farmers according to the NPR report which astounds me: 

"No one we talked to has issue with these corporations coming in and wanting to make money. And the fact that it's going to Saudi Arabia or China, the locals simply didn't care. But what they did care about is that their water tables are falling. So their domestic wells that they use for their homes are increasingly dropping, and at some point, they're going to lose access to water."

See the problem. They don't object to making money. Capitalism, of course, is the true religion. But they are worried about their water. In this case, making money = using up the water supply. 

It's the same here. Every farmer has a right to make money and plant whatever crop will be the most lucrative. So the aquifer is dropping, the water is getting more brackish, and so the PSB/EPWU must go searching for water to import in the not too distant future. (Some private companies are already doing it.) Yet we should never attempt to regulate what is grown and where. Capitalism is the true religion. 

I sure hope that the Saudis don't buy land here. With the private property laws of Texas and the right of capture rule, we won't have to worry about importing water. All of us will just move to the Pacific Northwest. (I love the Seahawks anyway.)

One last thought. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are exporting billions of gallons of water in the form of hay. How many Syrian refugees are they taking? Hmmm?

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