The Value of Water

By Dr. Fraka Harmsen
Dean, College of Natural Sciences

It is said, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water”.

The Center for Water and the Environment (CWE) is an important resource for leveraging Chico State’s academic excellence into the complex water issues of the North State and beyond. CWE dares to reach across college boundaries to be truly interdisciplinary and engage faculty and students in creating a shared vision, and a forum for unbiased, open, collaborative discussion, research and education.

From the development of innovative technologies to improve water utilization, to water quality and health, to water policy and economics, this center includes all those with a vested interest in water usage be it agriculture, urban needs or the environment.

CWE is a one-stop shop; a place for outside constituencies to find experts on campus. A place to form partnerships and bring our best minds together because California’s water system is in a crisis. From aging infrastructure to population growth to climate change, we face a complex set of problems that threaten the future of California’s economy and environment. For the first time in the state’s history, our water supply and delivery system may not be able to meet our growing needs.

Because of this crisis, Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a $23 billion water plan for two massive, 35-mile water tunnels beneath the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta to ensure a water supply for 25 million Californians and agricultural lands to the south where 80% of water demand occurs. What does this mean for the north state? With several million acres of irrigated lands and over $5 billion in agricultural products, the North State produces nearly every agricultural product imaginable, and feeds the state and the world beyond. We need to have our voice heard. Our participation on this issue and many others is key.

The wells of the American dream stand a good chance of running dry. Our most valuable resource is being squandered, ignored and flushed away. Without water there will be no wine, no roses, nothing over Dorothy’s rainbow except a pillar of salt.

This was adapted from Dr. Fraka Harmsen’s Welcome Address at the CWE Showcase Event April 19, 2013