THE PLIGHT OF THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
The San Joaquin Valley of California is currently facing a serious threat of contamination with unwanted salts. If left unchecked, this situation could jeopardize the very existence of agriculture in the region, which is known to produce nearly half of the vegetable crops grown in the United States.
The problem lies with the salts, which arise as a byproduct of irrigation. As it is, these salts are not being properly disposed into the ocean, as it was Nature's original intention. Instead, they are being allowed to accumulate in the soil profile, eventually rendering the soils too salty to remain productive.
A prevailing strategy for salt management is to collect the salts in evaporation ponds. However, the ponds do not solve the problem; instead, they make the system unsustainable in the long run, since no salts are being allowed to move out of the region.
It is clear that we must find a way to drain the salts to the ocean, where they belong. The urgency of the need for action cannot be overemphasized. Otherwise, we will be passing the problem to our children and grandchildren, who would have to act decisively to clean our mess, if they are to continue to enjoy the quality of life that we now take for granted.