This is really rather frightening.
The assumption that's underpinned pretty much all of the conversations I've seen about California's water problems has been that the in a year or three the drought will be over, and that it will get better. That's why you water the almond trees in a drought no matter how hard it is to afford the water, because if you don't it will take more than a decade to grow new ones -- it's not a matter of losing a year of income (as devastating as that is), but of losing a decade of it. If you can make it through the year with the trees alive, there is some hope of rain next year, and maybe you can keep the farm.
And that is something that I don't think we are grappling with. Solving this, insofar as we can solve it, means taking away what remaining hope people on farms have for a future in order that the catastrophe might be less bad. Might be less bad globally, but surely worse for them if only by coming a year earlier.
There is a real danger here. It is easy, tempting, to rationalize doing this by seeing the farmers as an enemy, as other, as opponents who we need not be compassionate towards because they have taken "our" water and "wasted" it. It is easier, more comfortable, to excuse taking away their hope by thinking of them as other. Let us not forget that taking away a person's hope for the future is a horrible, unforgivable thing, and though it may be necessary, that does not forgive it. Let us not blink and turn away from this truth.
And let us at least find some way to make what amends we can, and remember that it cannot be enough.