California depleting groundwater reserves rapidly to grow almonds


“The people of the state of California are more or less destroying themselves in order to give cheap almonds to the world.” – David Zetland.

California grows 80% of the world’s almonds. Over one million acres on the Central Valley is now almond trees. The extreme drought and complete lack of laws regulating groundwater pumping means aquifer levels are dropping fast. Yes, California (finally) passed a weak law regulating groundwater. However it’s toothless and will take years to implement.

David Zetland, economics professor at Leiden University College in the Netherlands, says farmers are pumping water at a rate four to five times greater than can be replenished.

“The problem is that California, because of its failed institutions for managing water, is allowing these almonds to come on market at $3-$4 a pound wholesale, when the price would be tripled if California was managing its water sustainably and farmers faced the real cost of water.”

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