Proposition 1 analyzed for voters

A Pacific Institute report shows Proposition 1, California's 2014 water bond, weak on conservation

“Dam Nation” by Stephen Grace

A recent book by the author of 'Under Cottonwoods' explains how sophist water policy is leeching the natural life out of the West and may eventually threaten the cities that overestimated then badly managed the region's fragile reserves.

‘A perfect drought’

The "bathtub ring" around Lake Mead revealed during the last decade by the Southwest's persistent overdraft of Colorado River water. Photo: Glen MacDonald / UCLA. Source: PNAS

Sod’s law would have it rain across California as a suite of papers explaining how a “perfect drought” is gripping the American Southwest appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That disarmingly dewy reassurance from the sky (we don’t capture or store most Southern California rain) doesn’t make the central warnings in Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America any less true, or the need of our region to reform the way it manages growth and resources any less pressing. Click here to read the PNAS special series of papers edited by UCLA geographer Glen MacDonald and including contributions from the Pacific Institute’s Peter Gleick and Arizona State University’s John Sabo.

How right was Reisner?

Central Arizona Project. Source: Federal Bureau of Reclamation

It’s a cliche because it’s true: there’s no drier topic than water. In 1986, Marc Reisner, a former staff writer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, published what may be the most gripping book on the subject. Cadillac Desert begins from an airplane window looking down on land so dry that there appears no way that it could sustain the booming cities of the American Southwest, much less the agriculture that the US government had in mind when it formed the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

He then built the book with a succession of  free-standing chapters that read more like magazine pieces, most but not all of which were marveling and disgusted histories of the region’s most famous (and infamous) water projects.

The life aquatic

Los Angeles River. Photo: Wikipedia via Flickr. Click on the image to be taken to Wikipedia

Last call for $30 seats for the The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council September 28th symposium “The science behind the policy: Clean water and natural resources in California.” After September 17th, the price rises to $40. Click here for details. Personally, I don’t understand the logic of the early bird special. If cinemas did that for movies, only well organized people would attend. Then again, the movies don’t have Pacific Institute president and MacArthur Fellow Peter Gleick. Yet. LASGWC panelists also include economics professor Bowman Cutter of the Pomona College and Adan Ortega, former Metropolitan Water District conservation strategist and a memer of the California Board of Food and Agriculture. Environment correspondent Molly Peterson of KPCC moderates.

This post has been updated from a preliminary stub with date and

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