‘To catch a raindrop’

“The water that you’re looking at would all percolate into the ground if it weren’t paved," Mark Hanna, a Department of Water & Power engineer, told Judith Lewis Mernit during a rainstorm last winter. To read Lewis Mernit's story on the lost rains of Los Angeles, click on the image to be taken to the website of the new literary quarterly Slake, or look for Slake from independent booksellers.

A January storm sweeps across the northern Pacific on the jet stream and hits Southern California with prodigious amounts of rain, writes Judith Lewis Mernit in the premier issue of Slake. It brings wind, too: bursts up to eighty miles per hour lop the tops off palm trees, waterspouts swirl, and a small tornado lifts catamarans thirty feet in the air. Here in Sun Valley, in the northern reaches of the San Fernando Valley, hail clatters so loudly on the

‘Ghost of Tulare’

“Tufts of unmilled cotton line Utica Avenue like clumps of dirty spring snow,” writes Judith Lewis in High Country News. “The road is like hundreds of others in the dun-and-green checkerboard of California’s Central Valley, a two-lane highway running straight as a zipper past geometrically arranged almond orchards and vineyards. Steve Haze, a candidate for U.S. Congress, is out here on what he calls “recon,” determined to debunk the local billboard slogans. “Congress-Created Drought” is common in fallow fields, right behind “Food Grows Where Water Flows” and “Water = Jobs.” The signs were put up by corporate growers and water-management leaders, who complain that a federal court decision that reduced their irrigation deliveries to save a tiny fish put thousands of people out of work. Haze thinks the reality is more complicated … He would like to see [Tulare Lake] brought back to life to help solve California’s water