irrigation sprinkler with cows in background

It's sadly ironic to say that public frustration with California's epic drought is a fluid situation.

Mandatory water use cutbacks, brown lawns, "water cops" who fine violators, rapidly drying reservoirs and wells, and clueless politicians are part of the state's landscape these days. Newspaper articles about water use and conservation are beginning to include quotes from city residents who hope farms start planting crops that use less water.

As the situation worsens seemingly every day, the risk of desperate, shortsighted "solutions" grows more ominous – especially since California has long been a trendsetter in many ways. Here is scary new possibility to consider: City voters decreeing how farmers use water.

A survey done in early July by the Public Policy Institute of California found 75 percent of respondents were in favor of mandatory reductions by water providers. In Los Angeles, it was 80 percent.

What if this attitude expanded into a statewide ballot initiative about water use or crop selection on farms? Would grapes be okay but not alfalfa? Would wheat be good but not silage corn? Would strawberries be nice but not rice?

Is something like this simply too crazy to worry about, or is it just the sort of thing that could happen in California?

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