Mention the word "cyborg" in Sacramento, and the name of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pops immediately to mind. It’s easy to forget that the state he governs — part natural waterscape, part ingeniously engineered plumbing system — is a hydraulic cyborg that could probably kick even the Governator’s butt.
One number pretty much speaks
for itself: Somewhere around 13 quadrillion gallons of water moves
around the state each year, pumped out of the ground or siphoned
off the Golden State’s mountains to grow the nation’s
lettuce and ice Hollywood martinis.
Now, the University
of California Press has bravely decided to publish the
Introduction to Water in California. Lavishly
illustrated with maps and color photos, the book is a sort of field
guide to the state’s watersheds, canals, reservoirs,
groundwater basins, legendary water contamination problems and
colossal endangered species issues, and to the ways all these parts
intermesh with — or grind against — each other.
A significant portion of the book focuses on solutions,
including water reuse and "banking," flexible farm-to-city water
transfers, "assured supply" requirements for new subdivisions, and
— proving that in California, no throne goes unturned in the
pursuit of water efficiency — "an aggressive program of
toilet replacement." Those tactics, according to author David
Carle, "allowed Los Angeles to grow by 30 percent during the final
decades of the twentieth century, yet see a seven percent decrease
in its total water use and a 15 percent drop in per capita demand."
We can only hope that, someday, such a guide is available
for every state in the West, perhaps handed out like voter’s
guides, or Gideons’ Bibles.
to Water in California
276 pages, hardcover $39.95, softcover $16.95
of California Press, 2004
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