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Hard Truths About California’s Water Crisis

Last month, Jay Lund, a distinguished professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis, wrapped up a lecture on California’s drought with a slide titled, “Resistance is Futile.” It included a list of his predictions about the state’s water crisis, some of which bordered on apocalyptic. As climate change fuels extreme drought, heat and flooding, Lund explained, some of California’s native species will become unsustainable in the wild. Farmers, government agencies and environmental groups will continue to fight over dwindling water supplies. In the San Joaquin Valley, farmers could be forced to fallow 40 percent of their land. “These things will happen,” says Lund, who has been studying California’s water situation for over 30 years. “I don't see anybody being willing to spend enough money to completely reverse these trends.” 

I spoke with Lund recently about his predictions. Our conversation focused on the San Joaquin Valley, which is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.