My wishful plan for responding to California's water crisis

Submitted by Barbara on Tue, 04/21/2015 - 23:41

Here is my UPDATED water plan.

#1- Grow a garden if you can. Home grown veggies take about 1/10th the water that commercially grown veggies do. This is perhaps the our best opportunity of making the sweeping changes that are needed since 80% of the water consumed in CA goes to agriculture. Little known fact, 50% of produce never makes it to the table because it doesnt meet industry standards. That means that 50% of the water is wasted right off the top on a commercial farm. The demands of machinery and soil mean that industrial farming cannot possibly match human scale farming for water efficiency, but enormous gains can and must be made by commercial farms. 

#2- Ban Fracking NOW. The million gallons per day consumed by fracking is a drop in the bucket when you look at CA's water profile, but that is not the real issue. The real issue is that fracking is like playing Russian Roulette with our aquifers & rivers. Pollute a few of them, and we are SCREWED! No more fracking, period. 

#3- Almond trees are not the enemy, but supplying 95% of the world market is crazy. Almond orchards will receive reduced water rations. The trees will be kept alive for the future but will become less profitable & produce fewer nuts. This should slowly transition the market away from almonds without destroying our chances of returning it to prosperity when the rains come again. (BTW, walnuts use 5x as much water, we just arnt hearing about it because CA raises a relatively small number of walnuts.) 

#4- Completely rework the water allotment system. Turns out that making farmers pay higher rates for water, pushes them into growing more profitable crops. So if you want to see CA become nothing but endless almond orchards, we should raise water rates. Broccoli and many other staples dont pay. Instead we need to COMPLETELY scrap the allotment system and redo if from the ground up based on logic rather than an ancient set of squatters rights.  Another option might be to price water according the what crop is being grown.

#5- Although restricting residential water consumption IS NOT THE ANSWER, we are not excused either. If we can get by on 16 gallons per person per day, so can most everyone else. 

#6- In New Zealand I was shocked that a quart of milk costs $2 and a quart of water cost $4 but when you get right down to it, it works because you never saw discarded water bottles laying around. We shouldnt ban bottled water outright. People should have access to water when and where they want it, but clearly there needs to be a higher incentive for people to remember to bring their own. A $3 per bottle tax could go a long way towards paying off the 7 billion dollar water bond that CA vote in last year and would be a defacto end to the exporting of bottled water by Nestle without running up against the laws on interstate commerce.

#7- If you feel like banning some thing, ban bottled soda. 1 gallon of bottled water takes about 1 gallon of water, but 1 gallon of soda takes about 93 gallons of water to produce. Unless you have some special reason for buying soda, just walk away for so many reasons.  You know what they are.

#8- The water you consume at home typically represents about 10% of your total water footprint so for every gallon you use at home, another 9 go into the things you buy and use. Control you external water footprint by cutting back on meat (specially beef & pork), cotton and rice - all of which are raised in CA. Share tools with your neighbor and buy used things, especially clothing. Fuel takes water to produce too. Be happy with what you have.

#9 Forget washing your car at home. Yes, you can do it with just a bucket of water, but then it goes down the storm drain and the fish dont really want it anyway. Go to a car wash where the water is recycled if you really need a clean car.

#10- Sin judiciously. Tobacco and alcohol both consume absurd amounts of water to produce. We are at the point of making either/or type decisions.

#11 Stay positive and spread the word.  If we all act together, we are unstoppable.