Water geek heaven

A very brief post today, because the Waterblogged.info team is at a mandatory all-day offsite at this awesome resource, a compilation of videos on all the big issues surrounding water from the California Colloquium on Water, an ongoing lecture series at the Berkeley campus of the University of California.


Congress is failing to act!

When Waterblogged.info’s sources* revealed that the move to restore California’s San Joaquin River is stalled in Congress, an eerie hush fell over our newsroom; the clattering of the typewriters ceased, the editor stopped chewing on her cigar, the copy boy tip-toed out the door to find a better job. Why, we asked ourselves individually and collectively (in italics the way we always do when dumbfounded), why would Congress fail to fund an agreement that’s been almost 20 year in the making, and that has been ordered by a federal judge?

Our sources cleared up the mystery, and restored Waterblogged.info’s characteristic water-news-mongering din, by adding this:

The delay in Congress, according to supporters of the bill, is being caused by new Pay as You Go requirements, meaning the money needed for the restoration has to be offset somewhere else in the budget.

Oooohh, pay as you gooooo! Just like the war in Iraq! Well, that explains it! Satisfied that sanity had be reestablished, we turned back to editing and writing, and in the case of our star reporter, to finishing what the old-timer calls a snort from the bottle he keeps in his top left desk drawer.

Our sources, graciously—and for no additional fees—added the following, in case the reader needs additional information to fuel his or her outrage about the destruction of California’s second-largest river:

The once-mighty river, which literally foamed with spawning salmon back in the day, was dammed in 1943. Now, during summer months, two long sections of the river often dry up for more than 60 miles.

Environmentalists have characterized the draining of the San Joaquin as one of the most egregious examples anywhere of habitat destruction to quench man’s thirst for water.

*The San Francisco Chronicle—that in a rare courageous move—printed a great, well-researched story.

Ten water-related reasons to leave California

Many faithful Waterblogged.info readers have expressed urgent concern about the lack of new postings in the last few days. We do apologize, but there’s good reason: Turmoil. Editorial turmoil. Grumblings from the Waterblogged.info editorial board—”a complete lack of focus disguised as a global perspective,” and “no apparent mission aside from complaining and hand-wringing about water,” and “writers and editors being all over the map,”—have led to a classic full-blown board-versus-staff power struggle that has brought production to a standstill.

Why not just focus on California—the location of Waterblogged.info’s home state—our board members ask in a manner they mistakenly perceive to be reasonable. There’s enough critical water issues to produce an endless amount of entries, especially those insistently depressing ones that you seem to like so much, and that by the way are never goingwaterblogged-beat-final.jpg to get you much in the way of readership.

Think about it, they persist. This state is Katrina on steroids waiting to happen: Take the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for starters. Now that’s a lifetime’s worth of whining and finger-pointing right there. Or the thousands of turbid lakes and dam-choked and polluted rivers and streams. The lack of effective legal limits on further development in areas that are already desperately scrambling to find new sources of water. Big agriculture that sucks up fully 85% of the state’s highest-quality water. The alarming increase of contaminated drinking water. Arnold Schwarzenegger!

But the Waterblogged.info staff remains united and defiant. We cover the waterfront. We want it all. We “pwn” water, as the kids would put it for some reason unclear to us. Wherever there is water, there we are as well. All over the map.

But conceding that the board members may have a point, and also hoping to get them off our backs and out of our business, we’ve decided to start posting more entries about our home state’s water woes. Below, we kick off our new commitment with another sop to our audience-obsessed board: a top-ten list.

Top 10 Water-related Reasons to Leave California

1. The imminent ecological collapse of the San Joaquin Delta

2. The imminent infrastructural collapse of the San Joaquin Delta (see linked article above)

3. The imminent, or more accurately, continued flooding of huge areas around the San Joaquin Delta

4. The lack of a coherent plan now or in the foreseeable future to deal with an antiquated water delivery system that mainly serves agriculture and Southern California

5. Californians drink polluted tap water (the linked page is information from a company that sells water filters and it has a very misleading name: Free Drinking Water.com. But there is a lot of well-organized data and reports.)

6. 85% of California’s managed water goes directly to agriculture; only 9% to domestic needs. (yes, the linked site wins the a-site-so-cheesy-looking-that-it-discredits-itself award—but it honors and accurately represents the work and thoughts of an unsung California conservationist, the late, great, California state senator John Nejedly.)

7. Agriculture uses pristine water; there are plans on the table to make up domestic water shortfalls with reclaimed sewage. Really.

8. Southern California

9. The Fed’s be way up in our water business (our researchers are following up on this 2005 article to see if there are updates)

10. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in charge of our water (or at least the portion not controlled by the federal government.) Reading the linked article is a good way to get a feel for the water-related stories that will soon dominate the news in California.