Friday Favorites blogroll: California drought version
As with most slowly evolving disasters, this one has many causes: decades of habitual overuse, failures of water governance and public investment, a stretch of abnormally “wet” years that came to be seen as “normal.”
What’s less clear is how Californians will be able to respond and what, if anything, California’s case means for the rest of the country. Sure, California is dry, but much of it has always been a desert and should have remained so, according to some smug ruminations from the Midwest, that part of the country that Western writer Wallace Stegner habitually referred to as “the humid East.”
But that’s not entirely true, or fair. The court fight between the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida over allocation of the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola-Flint River systems has been to the Supreme Court once and may yet be headed there again. The recent pollution of the Elk River in West Virginia owing to spilled coal cleaning chemicals showed us that our water protection laws are not always as robust as they need to be. Patterns of drought and flood on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers still baffle some of the most expensive engineers and planners in the country.
And that’s not even to mention the groundwater challenges in places like the Ogalalla Aquifer, which underlies most of the Great Plains and is being drawn down at an unsustainable rate.
In this climate of confusion and overwhelming information, where are we to turn? Fortunately the water conversation on the web is incredibly rich. On the California drought alone, and just within the past week, leading sources have included:
Circle of Blue, a topnotch online platform of news reporting and multimedia materials covering water issues across the world. The Special Report posted February 20 on California’s response to the water crisis caps a series of detailed analyses of the current crisis. Brett Walton (@waltonwater) leads the coverage.
Michael E. Campana, faculty in hydrogeology at Oregon State University, is, as his Twitter handle suggests @WaterWired. The WaterWired blog is a first-rate source of information on a range of water-related disciplines and has a very robust “jobs” listing.
In Minnesota, Minnesota Public Radio’s Ground Level program is conducting a sustained and detailed investigation of issues pertaining to water scarcity and to groundwater in Minnesota. Often thought of as one of the most “well watered” states in the country, Minnesota is beginning to see signs of strains on its water systems.
California journalist Emily Green writes at “Chance of Rain.” Her work often displays a deep skepticism of the platitudes uttered by elected officials at all levels of government.
All of these writers are prominently engaged on Twitter as well as maintaining their own blogs and other digital platforms. For tweeted insights particular to the California situation, follow the hashtags #cawater and #cadrought.