We’ve heard a lot about the unregulated amount of water being pumped from our shrinking aquifer for the 4 million almond trees that are, and continue to be, planted in Stanislaus County (soon to be consuming as much water as that of 480,000 people, which is more than twice the population of Modesto). A good portion of this crop is exported, essentially transferring our water overseas.
Now that it’s harvest season, we are also seeing the effect on our air quality. Almond harvests can generate as much as 40 pounds of dust per acre depending on harvest methods. The increase in asthmatic children in the Valley is the reason you will see orange flags flying at all schools in Oakdale. Those flags fly on bad-air days to alert children whose health is sensitive to stay indoors. Our powers that be need to be thinking – and thinking quickly – about how those 4 million (and growing) almonds trees are contributing to the decrease in the quality of life in the Valley.
June Botto, Oakdale