The State Water Project in pictures

Water pumped up the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains. Source: Aquafornia. Click on the image to be taken to Aquafornia's new slide show on California's State Water Project.

Aquafornia, the newsfeed of the Water Education Foundation, today published an educational side show on the history of the State Water Project. For those who wonder just how big a challenge to keep California hydrated Governor Jerry Brown inherited on November 2nd, click here to learn about the massive water-moving endeavor that his father, Governor Pat Brown, began in the 1950s.

The beginning of the slide show is straight up California heraldry. Glorification of the Department of Water Resources might seem a bit Soviet to those who never knew a winter without fresh fruit or vegetables. But keep clicking to follow the water. Once you do, the steadfast tracing of the project will equip you to understand news stories also

“Dumb, dumb, dumb” and “a pinch silly”

“Dumb” and “silly” sum up the response last month of Matthew Kahn to my review of his book Climatopolis. Click here for the review and here for the response. Those who questioned Kahn’s choice in Climatopolis of Moscow as one of the more climate change-ready cities will learn that he was not wrong in the book because in his revised estimation last summer’s deadly heat wave leaves Muscovites better versed in disaster. Residents of Salt Lake City may be relieved to learn that they are not in peril of sea level rise, and Antonio Villaraigosa may rest assured that he was not being mocked by the misspelling of his surname; the decision to call the Latino Mayor of Los Angeles “Tony” is left unexplained. The failure of my review to correlate with notices in the British press is offered as evidence that my assessment was unsound. Please note that as

Plastic product placement on ABC

Product placement: A "brain surgeon" with her almost constant companion, a plastic single use water bottle, in ABC's Private Practice. Source: ABC

Want to pollute this coastline? Call the scriptwriters.

Click on the cover for more on "Bottled & Sold"

There are various ways to advertise on network television, but only product placement inoculates the message against the fast forward button. In the case of ABC’s Private Practice, a medical drama set in Santa Monica, California, a sales pitch for bottled water was even written into the script recently. A character who we are to accept as an Ivy League-trained brain surgeon was given a speil about  how ready access to bottled water untroubled by guilt about the bottle’s persistence in the environment for 1,000 years was what she loved about the show’s ocean-side clinic. With this insouciance for hire, ABC managed the ultimate perversion. No, not asking us

The Dry Garden: Hesperaloe

Mushy leaves of South African aloe can't do this. The fibers of the Chihuahuan Desert native Hesperaloe are used in cordage.

Four years ago, I learned that a lady up the street whom I had for six years referred to as Chloe was named Cheryl. In much the same fashion, I only recently learned that a plant in my parkway that for five years I have called nolina is in fact Hesperaloe parviflora.

I learned this while singing the plant’s praises to a gardening class that had dropped by to see my rain catchment system. If there is comfort in this, it’s that hesperaloe is one heck of a plant by any name.

A member of the agave family and native to the Chihuahuan Desert, hesperaloe’s tolerance for cold (to 12 degrees) and heat (100-plus degrees) means that the plant can cope easily with what our Mediterranean climate can

High good, low bad: Lake Mead in October 2010

“The advice given to boaters here these days – ‘If you haven’t been to Lake Mead lately, you haven’t been to Lake Mead’ – sounds like a marketing slogan dreamed up to lure return business,” writes Shaun McKinnon in the Arizona Republic. “Except in this case the advice is true. The drought on the Colorado River has reshaped the huge reservoir so dramatically in the past 11 years that it bears little resemblance to the lake captured in snapshots just a few years ago. Water levels have dropped 133 feet. Islands have emerged and grown. Rocky outcroppings push through the surface, creating watery obstacle courses whose paths shift almost daily.”

Click here to keep reading or here for hourly elevation reports from the US Bureau of Reclamation. Lake Mead closed October at 1,082.35, less than 10 feet of the point where shortages will be announced for Arizona and

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