Fresh Facts Week 37: Exploring Drought Solutions

Volume 8, Week 36, May 3–9, 2015

Wow, things are quite early. From my perspective, they are uncommonly early; of course, that’s what I said last year and I don’t want you to think this is de ja vu all over again. So early in fact, we still have another week’s worth of apples; I did shoehorn in those Tasty Rich Apriums though. Generally, dry years give us smaller, but sweeter fruit and it sure is starting out that way.

I also told you how dry it was, but nothing like this year; of course, if you’ve been here more than a few minutes, you already know that. How dry is it Uncle Vern? Well, the lowest snowpack ever recorded here on the Kings River watershed was in 1924 at 22 percent of normal. We’re expecting 15 percent this year.  What that means is virtually every drop for every crop is going to further deplete the underground reserve, again.

There’s lots of talk about the gallon of water it takes to grow an almond, but not much about the 1,000 gallons it takes to grow a gallon of coffee. Here are some numbers that you can use. According to the UN, it takes 800 gallons per day to feed the average person on earth—rich, poor averaged together—and that water for Californians adds to 34M acre feet per year. Interestingly, that’s just about exactly the amount CA farmers use to grow our food. It doesn’t matter where it’s grown though, that’s what it’s gonna take—plus fuel, if we import it. There’s just no way to low flow shower head our way out of this, it’s going to take an entirely different mindset.

If we could step back from the specifics of daily life and just observe from the perspective of a curious outside researcher chronicling humanity, I think we’d have a pretty good chuckle at the predictability of our research.

We humans have the incredible capacity to extrapolate current conditions and project these far into the future. We can all quote things like: “The only constant is change.” Yet we desperately hold onto present circumstances and abhor change. In fact, we always wish things were the way they were the day before yesterday, conveniently forgetting that the day before yesterday was at least as crummy as today­—just a different crummy.

I think the difference is that somehow we made it through yesterday’s crummy—theologians call this common grace—but can’t yet see how we’re ever gonna make it through today’s. We have this general feeling that if we can just make it till the day after tomorrow, everything’s going to be peachy.

Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. Tomorrow is only peachy if we realistically fix today’s crummy. Privates know when they’re being shot to heck, Generals know what to do about it. I really want you to watch this 4 minute video. It’s on Facebook, but it’s more salient than the 7 minute YouTube version.

It documents how the Israelis have used technology to create a surplus of fresh water in their desert and I hope you’ll share it amongst your friends.

Right now, the free market has placed a value north of $2,000 an acre foot, which not even avocados can pencil; that’s why you see so many of them “stumped” down in SD and the central coast. How much is an acre foot Uncle Vern? Well, it’s about how much your home uses in a year, and almost how much 800 gallons a day adds up to grow the food for each family member. From that video, 40 cents a cubic yard for desalinization adds to $500 to water your food and $40 bucks a month for your house. Let’s bring on the visionary generals California and

Author Uncle Vern

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