The Looming Water Disaster That Could Destroy California, and Enrich Its Billionaire Farmers


From ALTERNET
Thanks to Janie Sheppard and Michael Foley

[More Privatizing B.S. exposed. -DS]

There’s a disaster waiting to happen in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and a handful of wealthy farmers seem to like it that way.

“That, in your own backyard there, is the scariest place after New Orleans.” — Geologist Nicholas Pinder’s description of the precarious situation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta after the hurricane Katrina disaster.

Imagine the devastating flooding of Hurricane Katrina multiplied by epic sandstorms, drought and economic collapse of the Dust Bowl. Now picture it happening an hour east of Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley and spreading all the way down to the Mexican border. It’s not as far-fetched as you think. A routine 6.7-magnitude earthquake would be enough to set it off, liquefying the decrepit levee system that walls off California’s main source of drinking water from the Pacific Ocean and triggering a deadly flood that would submerge roads, destroy homes, wipe out thousands of acres of farmland, kill countless numbers and possibly cut over 20 million Californians off from their water supply for a year or more.

California’s politicians have known about this looming catastrophe for decades. They also have had the power to neutralize the threat. But no one has done anything to prevent it.

Just like the oligarchs who used the shock of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction to tear down public housing, privatize public schools and pillage the city’s poorest, California’s most powerful business interests have positioned themselves to profit from this disaster. A handful of billionaire farmers and real estate developers are in line to pull off the most brazen water heist in American history, seizing control over much of Northern California’s water supplies and do what they have always wanted: turn water, a shared public resource, into a private asset that can be traded on the open market.

At the center of this epic water grab is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a Yosemite-sized patchwork of waterways and farmland an hour east of Oakland that sits atop California’s single largest water source. Formed by the confluence of state’s two largest rivers as they flow out to the San Francisco Bay, more than half of all rainfall and snowmelt drains through the Delta, supplying two-thirds of California with water and irrigating most of the state’s farmland… More at Alternet
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