Gray lady down
Auntie Ruth was watching the weather lady the other night and heard to her astonishment that thanks to the series of heavy storms that roiled through the state in February, annual rainfall for the region is now 85 percent of normal. Hooray! If it just rains for another month straight, the drought will be over! But wait. Just the other day, Auntie’s favorite gap-toothed celebrity (well, after David Letterman), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced that the ongoing drought “is a crisis, just as an earthquake or raging wildfire, and we must treat it with the same urgency by upgrading California’s water infrastructure to ensure a clean and reliable water supply to our growing state.” Talk about raining on someone’s parade!
Truth be told, despite the recent heavy rain, the guv’s right, to a certain extent. According to the state Department of Water Resources, the northern Sierra snowpack is just 70 percent of normal, and many of the state’s reservoirs sit below 50 percent capacity, including Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville (Folsom Lake is currently at 56 percent capacity). Even in the wettest times, the state’s aging water-delivery system can’t keep up with the competing demands of a growing population, agribusiness and wildlife. However, Auntie’s not so hot about the governor’s plan to solve the crisis by building more damns and a peripheral canal, and neither are many of the environmentalists who supported his campaign against greenhouse-gas emissions.
At any rate, President Barack Obama’s recent reversal of the last-ditch attempt by George W. Bush’s administration to weaken the Endangered Species Act will almost certainly derail Schwarzenegger’s plans. Among the many species endangered or threatened by the state’s current water-usage patterns are the Delta smelt, Central Valley chinook salmon and southern resident killer whales. In short, this problem isn’t going to be solved any time soon, so Auntie learned a little something back in her Navy days that’ll save us loads of the wet stuff: submarine showers! Simply wet down, turn off, soap up and rinse. Save even more water by showering with a friend. Trust Auntie, you’ll come out squeaky clean.