Severity of Water Wars in “California Today: A Battle Over the San Joaquin River”

California has been an escape goat of the west for many settlers early on during the birth of our nation. Due to the gold rush and the beauty of the golden state, California sees people from all over the world flocking here to settle down. Since California has entered the union as a state farmers, mining companies, families, and environmentalists have been arguing over the purpose of the unique water system in the state. In “California Today: A Battle Over the San Joaquin River”, Mike McPhate in late 2016 puts opinions into perspective over the current battle of the most special river systems. The San Joaquin River which starts in the Sierra Nevada’s and makes its way into the central valley compiling of a number of smaller tributaries funnel into the San Francisco Bay. The main point McPhate describes is the complexity of the battle over water. The Water Resource Board would like to increase San Joaquin and its tributaries flow by 40%. McPhate goes on to develop light on the situation by providing perspectives from both side of the battle between environmentalists and farmers. Overall, McPhate explanation of the issues involving the San Joaquin River is very effective because he creates insight on the difficulty put on legislators using ethos, pathos and logos and allows for the reader to make their own interpretation without providing solutions to the issue.

McPhate begins the article by setting the tone very quickly claiming the “San Francisco Bay estuary is in a crisis.” This creates a sense of panic for the reader, thus maybe intriguing your interest to continue reading. An emotional appeal follows with McPhate describing the current issue regarding the San Francisco Bay estuary in regards to the San Joaquin River, “Half a dozen fish species are inching toward extinction, scientists at the Bay Institute say. Higher up the food chain, whales, seals and pelicans are going hungry. At the same time, thousands of fishing jobs have vanished.” Starting off the article with an emotional appeal for animals in the water system gives a vibe that McPhate is in favor of the restoration of the estuary and bay.

As the article digresses, McPhate sheds light on the controversy over water rights and regulations with an logical appeal. History tells us California farmers, mining companies, families, and as of recently environmentalists have been arguing over water rights. The impact of the San Joaquin River and the Bay have been impacting the state economically since the formation of the state. McPhate makes this impact clear stating, “Originating in the Sierra Nevada, the rivers eventually drain into the Bay estuary, feeding its unique ecosystem. But along the way, they snake through the drought-hit farm communities of the San Joaquin Valley and a gantlet of dams and diversions for crop irrigation.” Thus exemplifying that water is used for irrigation for food, dams for electricity, and many more uses.

What shapes McPhate’s argument exemplifying the complexity of the situation comes from using Ethos, describing the farmers and environmentalists perspective on the battle in courts. For example, “the State Water Resources Control Board wants to raise the flow of the San Joaquin and the tributary Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers to 40 percent of their natural flow during the critical spring months.” From this decision opinions are being formed by famers in need of the water and environmentalists wishing to keep the fish from going extinct. With providing different perspectives and statistics on the importance of the Delta, “No matter the final shape of the plan, state officials acknowledge it will have major consequences for wildlife, businesses and jobs. (The state has estimated a $64 million hit to the farming economy; agricultural leaders say it would be much higher).”

Throughout the article Mcphate employs articulated appeal choice picking protests and opinions that create a situation and a possible solution that should be considered life changing for most in California. Out of all the opinions developed in the issue, McPhate decided to depict, “At the public hearing in Merced this month, a standing-room-only crowd showed up to hear from the board and voice their concerns. Outside, about 30 tractors paraded through the streets in protest with signs that read: ‘Farmers Fed-Up’…felt as if state leaders were trying to put farmers out of business over a few fish.” In conclusion, Mcphate juxtaposes the two ideas currently in the thought process of Water Resources Board of saving water for the farmers or releasing more water for the estuaries. Ultimately, effecting out state economically with whatever decision they decide to make, leaving the reader being able to develop their own ideas on the issue.

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