Monday, June 02, 2008

A river RAn Through It

Category: Issue 10

I live in Southern California. People here may be more aware of the need for conserving water that in other “wetter” places. Overall, water conservation is vital. I’m not talking about doomsday prophecies about not having any water to drink, but I’m talking about how much the need for water has effected everything else around us. Even things that are seemingly unconnected.

The following article I wrote is proof of this phenomenon. One of the hot topics in this years election is the immigration issue. What do we do? Close our borders? Deport illegals? Grant amnesty? Who knows. Let this article show you that the immigration problem today has a lot to do with water, and how we get it, use it, waste it and forget about it.

A River Ran Through It….....

Imagine a lush green valley. Hillsides covered with trees and shrubs….all green and alive. There is river and a delta that runs right on through the valley. The river provides. The delta is spawning ground for many fish and of course, as in all delta areas, it makes the soil perfect for sustaining vegetation. The river provides. It provides food in the form of fish, and in the form of crops. It provides jobs for the valley residents thus creating an economy all its own. The river provides.

The river provided. This valley is not some fictional place created by Rawls or Baum. It existed much like I described for many, many years and although the valley is still there geographically; the river that once provided is not. This is the story of the Mexicali Valley. The valley rests between the US Mexico Border and the sea of Cortez. The river of course is the Colorado. In years long since past the Colorado River ran from its source in the Rocky Mountains all the way south to the sea of Cortez. This created an ideal spot for the local Meso-Indian population. They were a self sustaining people. They fished in the river, planted crops of wheat and corn and beans in the fertile soil it provided. The people that lived there, worked there. Because of the river, there was money, jobs, food, and safety. The Mexicali Valley was a more suitable place to live then the areas north in the US. The deserts of Arizona, Colorado, Utah and southern California were arid to say the least. However, the smell of money proved too powerful to keep people away. Spurred by a growth that began with the gold rush, the American southwest was being settled at an alarming rate.

Even back then in the early 1900’s people were keen to the fact that LA was a hit. People began buying up massive tracts of land in the San Fernando Valley. Sensing correctly at the immense value of the land. The truth is, the land was at the time worthless, being mostly dry and unfarmable. They knew something that many others didn’t. That William Mulholland, rich, white man that he was…..had a plan. A plan to ensure that the land would rise in value, quite possibly forever. The advantages of living in a desert climate are many days of sunshine and warm weather year round. The disadvantages? Water. There was no water within 200 miles of the San Fernando Valley. It didn’t rain more than 30 days out of the year in the San Fernando Valley. So how was this area going to grow? How were his wealthy financial backers going to profit from their land? By literally stealing water from the residents of Owens Valley and building the now infamous LA River aqua ducts.

Low and behold this wasn’t enough. As more and more people flocked to the southern California area, and more recently to Las Vegas and Phoenix the need for water was as high as the mountains that provided it. A series of projects like the Hoover Dam in 1922 portioned off the life giving waters of the Colorado river to Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and of course the growing giant Southern California. Oh yeah, we told Mexico that we would be sure to let a few drops come their way as well. Project after project and development after development made sure that Mexico did not receive any of our precious water. The farms of southern California were growing vegetables that provided food for our whole country so they felt it was justified to just keep taking water.

The Mexicali valley has 1% of the water they had before this happened. And so the many farms are no more, the many fish are no more and they many people that lived there have illegally crossed our borders to work on farms here.

You can reread that if you want to. In my opinion, illegal immigration is a top 5 problem in our country and maybe top 3 in southern California where 1 in 7 workers are undocumented. I run into them every day. My job puts me in situations where an ID is necessary, and many, many do not have any form of ID. Many show me Mexican driver’s licenses after getting out of a pickup truck overloaded with people and lawnmowers. I used to get angry. I used to direct my anger at them. They make an easy target. They don’t speak English, they have dirty jobs, they tolerate living in substandard conditions etc. They are an easy target. Lucky for me I read a lot. When I learned about the history of the Colorado River and the history of the growth of Southern California, I see who is really to blame. Money and greed and our rich predecessors that had zero vision of a future beyond their own wallets.

It gets worse. We are going to run out of water anyway. Now, partly because the illegal population has caused our cities to grow even faster. The greedy, in keeping with their father’s wishes, just keep on feeding the beast. LA keeps building new developments with apartments and malls so all these “new” people will have a place to live. In places like Valencia, where it doesn’t rain, and the dry brush burns almost every year. And the coyotes that call that area home kill a few dogs and then get shot, and eventually forced out. When will enough be enough? If you are reading this and you live in LA, make sure the people you voted for know that you are not for further development. It is simply an invitation for more and more people to come. What usually happens is that people that lived in LA proper move out when the illegal aliens move in? They move to Simi Valley and to Valencia.

There are other things that I find interesting as well. Like the fact that even though the largest portion of the river comes to southern California, we are the only state in the group that doesn’t have any forced conservation measures in place. Vegas buys grass from people and helps them design a native plant yard and garden. Phoenix has similar program. Both cities have dry days where washing your car and watering your lawn is prohibited. Vegas spends an estimated $7.79 per person on water conservation methods. LA spends none. On paper LA spends $2.00. But in fact nothing at all is done. Businesses, residential homes, all of us use water too much. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, like I do, and you have grass, like I do, you use too much water. Grass is not a native plant, palm trees are not a native plant, and orange groves are not native plants contrary to popular belief.

If we really want to ebb the flow of illegal immigrants crossing into our country, then we must do something to make them want to stay there. If they had food, and farms, and jobs there, they wouldn’t want, no, need to come here to survive. If you conserve water, don’t just think of it as saving a couple of bucks, or even helping the environment, think of it as helping national security. Helping to secure our borders and reduce the population growth that is coming from Mexico. People will still come, but it is a step in the right direction. We destroyed their ability to be self sustaining in the first place, now they are contributing to our inability to do the same. The past, once again, is coming back to haunt us. Thank you William Mulholland, I hope you enjoyed your money. You are a not a hero to me, you are not a leader to me; you are not an engineering marvel as some call you. You are a greedy thief whose lives mission was to stay rich, get richer and make your friends rich and you have created a situation that will eventually destroy our cities.

Thank you William Mulholland.