California drought: Why some farmers are ‘exporting water’ to China

February 19, 2014 at 11:23 am Leave a comment


While historic winter storms have battered much of the US, California is suffering its worst drought on record. So why is America’s most valuable farming state using billions of gallons of water to grow hay – specifically alfalfa – which is then shipped to China?

The southern Imperial Valley, which borders Mexico, draws its water from the Colorado river along the blue liquid lifeline of the All American Canal.

It brings the desert alive with hundreds of hectares of lush green fields – much of it alfalfa hay, a water-hungry but nutritious animal feed which once propped up the dairy industry here, and is now doing a similar job in China.

“A hundred billion gallons of water per year is being exported in the form of alfalfa from California,” argues Professor Robert Glennon from Arizona College of Law.

“It’s a huge amount. It’s enough for a year’s supply for a million families – it’s a lot of water, particularly when you’re looking at the dreadful drought throughout the south-west.”

Read the article on the BBC here.

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Entry filed under: Business, Climate.

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