California Water Use Restrictions

We received this flyer in our water bill this month:

Water Use RestrictionsI passionately believe in conservation and preservation of our environment.

But I find this flyer ridiculous.

“Serve water to restaurant patrons only upon request” must be the most ludicrous suggestion of water conservation man has ever come up with. I agree, it’s not the first time we hear this. I agree, it’s not just the glass of water we drink or do not drink, but it’s the dishwashing that is also saved (presumably). Somebody show me how a restaurant that does not serve up water actually saves measurable amounts of dish washing water by not washing those glasses.

But the whole thing misses the point. Six months ago I wrote about California, Water and Rice. There I observed that in California, we use 85% of our water for agriculture, 5% for industry and only 10% for residential consumption – what is addressed in this flyer.

We grow some of the most water-intensive crops in California. Check out this article for stunning details. 99% of all U.S. almonds are grown in California, and it takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow a single almond. Let me say this again:

It takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow a single almond.

I like almonds. But given a choice between drinking an extra gallon of water a day and eating ONE ALMOND, I’ll take the water any day.

How do you reconcile these water use regulations for residents when you live in a state that has 124 desert golf courses?

I would have been more accepting of this pamphlet if it had given information about measures on agricultural use – where conservation initiatives actually would make a measurable difference.

If a farmer has statistics he can share, I’d appreciate it. I couldn’t find much data online, on the contrary. I found rationalizations why we can’t touch Californian agriculture.

“California’s agriculture is critical to the world’s food supply,” said assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, who represents part of the San Joaquin Valley, who had lobbied hard against the restrictions. “An inability to produce that food would clearly be devastating to health and human safety not only in California but around the globe.”


Hmm, all this talk gave me the munchies. I’ll have a handful of healthy almonds and a tumbler of ice water.

California Brown – and not the governor


This shows California on January 13, 2013 (left) and January 13, 2014 (right).

Anza Borrego
Anza Borrego Desert

This is a picture I took in the Anza Borrego Desert a few weeks ago. There isn’t a green leaf to be found.

We’re in trouble.