Our drought has captured the imagination of people across the nation. Some are adding vital information to the situation, others are pretty much limited to their entertainment value.
Consider the New York Times, which recently put together a wonderful interactive graphic that shows how much water it takes to produce any number of foods. We’re not sure if it was meant to make people feel guilty about eating a slice of avocado (4 gallons) or an egg (18 gallons), but it does provide people a realistic look at how much water it takes to grow anything. And that helps put into perspective all the noise about using a gallon water to grow one almond. It still, however, says agriculture uses “80 percent of all the water consumed” in California. We’re not sure what “consumed” means, but ag uses 40 percent of all the water that gets used for any purpose each year.
But that’s not the only thing being written about our water.
The state’s unofficial water blog is compiled by “water junkie” (aren’t we all?) Chris Austin, aka Maven of Maven’s Notebook (mavensnotebook.com). Austin recently recounted a meeting of several water experts, including Lester Snow and Joe Byrne, who chairs the California Water Commission. With them was Randy Fiorini, the Turlock farmer who once chaired the Association of California Water Agencies and now chairs the Delta Stewardship Council.
Never miss a local story.
Fiorini pointed out that every major water project in this state has had a local champion. It could be an agency, a water district or grass-roots activists, but they have been tenacious. He also noted that our reservoirs, though seriously depleted, already are connected to the state’s water conveyance system. If we simply enlarged them, we wouldn’t have to engineer additional canals and tunnels.
Finally, if you really want to go deep, check out the extensive article about groundwater from professor Graham Fogg of UC Davis. “The Central Valley is key in terms of California’s water use,” Fogg wrote. “It’s the key aquifer; it’s one of the biggest aquifer systems in the world,” he said, adding that most of the aquifers throughout the region are interconnected. Fogg is also the professor who recently suggested setting back levies to enhance groundwater recharge.
Olsen on a roll
Some legislation is more important than others, and Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen has no shortage of important issues to tackle. There’s the drought, the county’s negative bailout, education reform and much more. Then there is the legalization of motorized skateboards. Olsen’s bill to allow skateboards powered by electric motors was approved by the Assembly last week with little dissent. Apparently, there are a lot of skaters in the Assembly.
The Zboard electric skateboards are made in Riverbank by Intuitive Motion (we’ve written about them before). The new rules, if approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, would allow the skateboards to be used in bike lanes – assuming local jurisdictions don’t find a reason to object. We trust they won’t.
Keep the bug spray handy
So far no human cases of West Nile have been spotted, but we know the disease is back. The first victims are birds, and so far 10 counties – including Stanislaus and San Joaquin – have reported finding infected bird carcasses. Birds go first because they’re primary targets for the mosquitoes that carry the disease. Usually, horses follow. For many, West Nile is no more bothersome than a bad flu. For others it can be deadly. Unless you want to tempt fate, it’s time to start using bug spray when you have to be outside when mosquitoes are active – early morning and early evening. Get rid of standing water (refreshing pet bowls each day or moving them inside). If you see a mosquito in the house, kill it. If you find a dead bird, call (877) 968-2473 (WNV-BIRD), especially if it’s a big bird. For more help, call (209) 522-4098 if you’re north of the Tuolumne River or (209) 634-1234 if you’re south.