"California's Man-Made Water Crisis"
Report by Betty Sakai
With over 20 years of experience in media and political consulting, with a B.A. in Communications from Azusa Pacific University, and an M.A. in National Security Studies from California State University-San Bernardino, David Spady thanked the large Forum audience in attendance and acknowledged the evening’s conflict with the first Democrat Presidential Debate where he mused an old Socialist would be debating Bernie Sanders.
Introduced by the Forum’s Vice President Joel Fine, David Spady is Founder of Media and Public Affairs Strategy, President of the Liberty and Property Rights Coalition, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Salem Media Group, and State Director of Americans for Prosperity in California. He serves as an advisor to over 35 radio talk shows, including nationally syndicated hosts Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Bill Bennett, Michael Medved, and Mike Gallagher. He is a columnist for Townhall.com and produces a weekly video series Common Sense With David Spady. David has appeared on numerous television news broadcasts including CNN, FOX News, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Inside Edition. His editorials have been published in a number of newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Sacramento Bee. He is the producer of two documentary films, Wolves in Government Clothing, and No Water, No Farmer, No Food. Growing up in a rural Montana before moving to California, David continues to be an avid outdoorsman. He has served for over a decade as a board member of the Ventura County Boy Scouts of America.
David Spady drew applause from his Forum audience when he stated America is a nation founded on the principal of bottom up management of government -- diametrically opposite to the Elitists’ belief in top down management. The folks on farms and ranches in rural areas he added understand their responsibility to steward the land. They are the original environmentalists, passing their knowledge down from one generation to the next.
For urban millennials who know very little about where their food comes from, who get 60% of their information from social media, who spend much time in the “edutainment” world of Facebook and YouTube while residing in densely populated, impacted urban neighborhoods, liberal utopian idealism is compelling. For the majority, those who believe in government regulating Man’s usage of the environment, mother-nature is a quasi-religion -- almost a God. The ideals may not be real and may be the opposite of reality but they are an easy sell and popular within the social network. Two examples: for many living in cities, a wild animal like a wolf is just a big furry dog. A bald-faced Hereford is cute, and meat comes from the grocery store, not the slaughter house. The conservative point of view is opposite and reflective of reality, accepting the fact that even when one doesn’t like the outcome or how it is, reality must be faced.
The majority of millennials who back extreme environmentalists’ management of government agencies such as the BLM and California’s Fish and Game are well meaning. They have been manipulated to believe farmers cannot be trusted to do the right thing, and government bureaucrats must limit Man’s footprint and reduce Man’s impact on the natural world. The lack of understanding of those whose lives and livelihood revolve around stewardship of the land makes it easy for those in high places – in government bureaucracies and in the judiciary -- to continue to injure the food producers. How we talk about things, how we frame things is very important, David urged. Politics is a numbers game. We need the numbers on our side.
As a communicator, David spends much of his time focusing on talk-radio as radio gets people talking to other people. He also creates documentary films he calls “home movies” and puts them on YouTube. He spends much time on Facebook. His documentary film, No Water, No Farmer, No Food focuses on the fact that the California drought is not caused by Man but politicians in Washington, D.C. and in Sacramento are 100% responsible for the water shortage in California. His film is a story about radical environmentalism. Today the Central Valley is a Congress-created dust bowl. California could pass a law to manage its own natural resources as other states have done but Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have no interest in doing this.
Wild animals and fish could be reintroduced at some point in time but have under the current administration and judicial activism been placed in front of the needs of Man. The Delta Smelt, a small non-native bait fish (that is actually dying out naturally) is currently being farmed at U.C. Davis. It was used in 1970s by extreme conservationists as a “canary in the coal mine” to halt the flow of millions of gallons of water in the California Aqueduct from Northern California into the Central Valley. Fish and Wildlife officials said they feared the eco-system was failing.
California’s Central Valley is a fertile land reliant on controlled surface water to prevent the land from sinking and reducing the amount of underground storage. The soil is rich and there is a Mediterranean type of climate capable of producing one-half (1/2) of all produce sold in the United States. The Central Valley is called America’s Bread Basket. It represents one-sixth (1/6) of the irrigated land in the United States. Because the voices of extreme environmentalists are listened to, jobs and farms have been lost and families have suffered. Politicians – both federal and state—have failed in their responsibility to provide water for a growing populace (20 million in 1970 – today 40 million), by allowing billions of gallons of water from northern California to flow to the Pacific Ocean to protect fish. Politicians and government bureaucrats have placed the interest of fish -- that can be farmed and reintroduced -- over the interests of Americans and American families. Only about 6% of the available water is used in cities. 30% to 40% is used in rural and agricultural areas and in the Central Valley. Because of our current government, half (50%) of our water is flowing out to the Pacific Ocean.
In 1973 the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Nixon. The purpose of the act was to list species in danger of extinction and to provide a plan to restore them. It was an honorable effort, but of the 2,000 species listed less than 1% have been restored and half have been delisted because they became extinct. Only 28 of the 2,000 species listed have had programs that actually restored the species. Since its passage, the law has morphed by judicial interpretation and case law into something that was not intended.
In 2014 in a time of drought, one single individual, a judge made a decision to force the release of 726 acre feet of water over a two year period into the Pacific Ocean. This is 326,000 gallons of water (1 acre across and 1 foot deep) that could have been used for agriculture. This water would have provided 10,000 jobs, food for 700,000 people, and one billion dollars in economic activity in the State of California. One single judge was able to do this with his interpretation of the Endangered Species Act. And this happens repeatedly. On another occasion, a proposed dam on the Klamath River that would have supplied enough water for San Francisco for 30 years was killed by environmentalists.
There is a lack of foresight from our elected officials who are supposed to provide enough water for California’s growing population. No major water infrastructure projects have been conducted for 30 years. Two years ago a Water Bond Measure was placed on the ballot and advertised as a fix for the water crisis. Because the incredibly powerful environmental lobby demanded 2/3 of the money be spent on their pet projects instead of the water infrastructure project, Americans For Prosperity was forced to oppose the measure because it was not a long-term solution.
A reporter from the Chicago Tribune once asked David Spady why Man should do things to nature that creates cities in areas like Southern California where there is little water, and golf courses in deserts like Palm Springs. David answered, “Because we can.” The Romans built incredible aqueduct systems, as did the Egyptians and the Greeks. As California is a naturally arid state and 70% of the water comes from Northern California, the California Aqueduct transports water 400 miles south and up over 3,000 feet in elevation to provide water to 10 million residents in Los Angeles. 70% of the states’ water is directed south of Sacramento.
David Spady reminded the Forum audience that the Earth is called the blue planet by scientists for a reason. Our planet has an adequate supply of water. Nature supplies gallons of water to every person on the planet every day in the form of food produced or personal usage. Our diets are heavy with water in a virtual sense. To produce the food we eat, large amounts of water are required. One cup of coffee requires 37 gallons of water to produce, one pound of coffee 2,500 gallons of water. A bag of almonds takes 30 gallons of water to produce the almond. An egg takes 53 gallons of water, considering the amount of grain required to feed a chicken over its lifetime. A cheeseburger may take 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of water considering the beef, lettuce, tomato, and wheat bun. A chicken breast takes 130 gallons of water to produce. And a glass of wine takes 32 gallons of water. Of course no-one is going to stop drinking or eating or taking showers. To understand what is happening, one only has to experience the prices of food and water and gasoline and witness our reliance on foreign imports and people losing their livelihoods.
Asked if he sees any changes in the near future for California, David Spady said no, not in the short term. No-one in the leadership in Sacramento is talking about what is necessary to bring about changes. Politicians do not wish to take personal responsibility, preferring to blame someone 3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C. In the interim, we need to educate people to not put the interests of our children over the management of wildlife. Actor Paul Rodriquez, once a fund-raiser for Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, after purchasing for his mother the farm where she once worked as a migrant worker and witnessing his government turn off her water, changed his registration to Republican when neither Feinstein nor Boxer would help.
It is extreme environmental idealism influencing the political system that has caused the problem. The fact is, farmers have a real connection to the land. They depend on their land to be healthy. Our lives depend on farmers and ranchers being successful in what they do. The idea that the fight over water is between farmers and a fish is a misnomer. It’s actually a fight between radical environmentalists and all the citizens and families in California.
Asked about the EPA’s recent attempt to assert control over navigable waters – another gray area interpretable by judges – Spady answered this is another massive overreach by the current administration to control private property. The EPA has determined that any puddle of water that sits for a period of time must be pure enough to sustain a trout, so farmers cannot fertilize their crops if they have standing water anywhere. The federal government is thinking of every possible way to control every aspect of our life and find some way by regulations, fines, or confiscation to make some money from those who are independent.
Farmers know about taking care of their land and raising food. They have very little spendable money and know little about forming political organizations or defending themselves legally. There is no national organization to defend the rights of farmers and ranchers like there is for 2nd Amendment gun owners in the N.R.A. David added that profiteering goes on in the green movement by subsidizing products through taxation. The people will feel the effects of what government has done when it takes $200 to fill up their car with gas, when it costs more to buy fuel-efficient trucks, when it’s cheaper to buy fuel in another state, and more people will be moving to rural areas or out of state.
Asked if he has any projects upcoming, David answered that he is currently working on a film about our urbanized nation, the impact of smart growth (example: Bay Area 1), the stacked housing, and the consequences of this. For those wishing to see his film: No Water. No Farmer. No Food, a DVD can be ordered by going on line to www.AmericansForProsperity.com and donating any amount. The need he admonished is to distribute DVDs to as many people as possible to educate them.
The Forum thanked David Spady with much applause. He provided many valuable insights.
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