If you’ve spent much time in California’s San Joaquin Valley, it’s hard to believe two things. One, that a region so arid and seemingly lifeless can produce so much of the world’s food supply. And two, that the area was once a thriving system of rivers, streams and oak forests, draining the Sierra from the east, and the coast ranges to the west, most of that water finding its way to the Golden Gate, and out through the Pacific. Walt, a raisin farmer from near Fresno, remembers swimming and fishing in the San Joaquin river as a boy, now a bone-dry sand wash. Walt wants to change that.

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