Is the drought in California a surprise to you? It would not be if you had read Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner. Way back in 1986, Reisner published this eloquent and well-researched expose on the history of water and the west.
From the back cover:
"The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster."
This book should be required reading for EVERYONE, and if you know someone living in California, you should consider sending them a copy too.
Last week, the New York Times ran a series of articles on the drought and the dire situation that the Golden State is in. I found it odd that the issue of where L.A.'s water comes from was never addressed. Mayor Garrett of Los Angeles, remarked "Do we have enough water to sustain life? Absolutely. Do we have enough water to grow economically? Absolutely." Perhaps Mayor Garrett should find more knowledgeable advisers–for the truth is that L.A. has been piping water in, from hundreds of miles away, for over a century. This "drought" is not a matter of climate change or seasonal weather, but nature refusing to cooperate with the sham any longer.
Unsustainable & Unconscionable: California is definitely living on borrowed time (and water); in addition to draining rivers and lakes from all over the west, they have been pumping groundwater at a tremendous rate, which is NEVER a good idea. Interestingly, California is the only state which does not regulate the use of groundwater, though they are starting to think about it. (Uh-huh.) This seems long overdue when people in East Porterville, CA have dry wells and are subsisting on bottled water. Considering that one-quarter of our nation's food is grown in California, the repercussions of a century's worth of rampant unsustainable use of water will be felt far beyond its borders. It is time to start growing your own veggies and attending local Farmer's Markets!
In our last visit to Orange County, I was heartened to see that homeowners were beginning to replant their front yards with native plants instead of turfgrass. The native yards were dizzy with birds, bees, and lizards. No surprise-we did not see any living things in the grassy lawn next door.