The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

California’s Water:
Race to Disaster

Feb 14, 2022

Drought has been hitting California hard for two years, and Big Agriculture’s relentless demand for more and more water has further aggravated the problem.

This drought is clearly one of the worst. For example, the most recent rain year, which ended in June 2021, was the third-driest on record in the Northern Sierra region, and the seventh-driest on record in Los Angeles. The water level in reservoirs is a near-record low. The mountains are dried out. Riverbanks are retreating.

But in the midst of this severe drought, large farms continue to drill wells and pump huge amounts of water for their crops.

Look at large almond farms in the San Joaquin Valley, for example. These farms not only produce nearly all of the almonds grown in the U.S., but also dominate the world’s almond production—which exceeded 3 billion pounds in 2021, with a total value above 6 billion dollars. But growing almonds requires huge amounts of water, and these farms’ thirst for water causes groundwater levels to drop continuously. Further exacerbated by the drought, this loss of groundwater has caused the ground to sink as rapidly as 1.5 feet per year in certain areas of San Joaquin Valley. The collapsing ground is, in its turn, affecting infrastructure, reducing California’s water-carrying capacity.

So, as the large farms are profiting enormously, living conditions for the majority of the people in San Joaquin Valley, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the state, are getting worse with each passing day. Small farms are not able to find enough water to sustain themselves. Shallower wells that supplied nearly a thousand family homes have gone dry in 2021 alone, forcing families to buy water from grocery stores for showers, cleaning dishes and cooking.

Combined with the drought, which is driven by environmental collapse, the endless pumping of water for the profits of big agriculture is nothing but a race to a complete disaster. California may be very rich in resources, but the profit-driven capitalist economy has been drastically depleting one of the most vital resources, water, threatening to make life in this very rich state unbearable for working people.