Friday, October 19, 2007

LA Water News - Green speaks at Green Party

The Los Angeles Greens were privileged to host Dorothy Green, founder of Heal The Bay, at their monthly meeting last Wednesday, October 17. Ms. Green provided us with an eloquent overview of California's complicated, sordid history with water. From the dikes in the San Joaquin river delta near Sacramento to the vast aqueducts that diverted water hundreds of miles away to the L.A. basin, Ms. Green painted a portrait of water managed with mostly greed and short-term benefits in mind.

The results have often been devastating. The San Joaquin River used to host a sizable salmon run, but that run has been severely depleted, due in part to how the water was mismanaged. Agribusiness uses the biggest single percentage of our fresh water, and its four main crops -- cotton, alfalfa, rice, and irrigated pasture -- are not efficient, with either our water or our money, as they require subsidies to make them competitive in the global marketplace.

Ms. Green also observed that the storm drainage system in Los Angeles may be an engineering marvel, but it ends up taking away rainwater that would otherwise filter through the soil and into the ground water table. This runs counter to natural processes that could provide us with more clean drinking water.

Ms. Green treated us to a lengthy question and answer session, wherein she explained, among other things, the connection between energy use and water use; the sad state of the Salton Sea, the worst water accident in California; the myth of bottled water being healthier than tap water (it's often the same thing!); and how you can get involved in water management by running for posts in water management districts.

The L.A. Greens gained a lot of insight from Ms. Green, not least of which was learning that the term "blackwater" is not only the name of a mercenary-for-hire company, but also another word for water contaminated with sewage. Kind of explains a lot.

Derek Iversen

I am very grateful to Derek for this report. I added many links to further educate those who want to learn more. If you don't ready any other, read the opinion piece from the Atlanta Journal Constitution linked from "short-term benefits" above. It may be from Georgia, but it does mention the delta.


Lisa said...

Dorothy Green was a wealth of information and her book serves as a good resource.

I'm sure LA Greens will formally endorse the 16 sustainable water principles of California Water Impact Network, it is really a no brainer; and I hope Green Party of LA County and other county councils will do the same.

We hope to have Ms. Green back next year to speak again.

Wes said...

Well, Dorothy had an Op Ed in today's LA Times. I have seen some previous submissions from Dorothy that did not get in. This one is timely.