Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: How pot is making California sink (and other leaps in logic)

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46238 full

There's gold in them thar hills! And pot. And it all ties in together in a messy, dusty bow(l).

First, the good news:

  • OK, so it's not totally good news, but you have to look for the silver lining in every nonexistent cloud, right? In this case, the silver lining is that it appears most Californians are cutting back on water use. At least, that's what they say they're doing:
According to [a Public Policy Institute of California] poll, two of three adults consider water supply a big problem or somewhat of a problem. One in four wasn't worried. But just about everyone — 92 percent — said they are trying to conserve. (AP via Sacramento Bee)

The bad:

  • Less rain means more groundwater pumping. That also means that large portions of Central California are sinking, some by about a foot each year. (National Geographic)

The cool:

  • Our own Sanden Totten has written about how NASA is using its resources to better understand its home planet, including looking at underground aquifers. Now, it appears the space agency will be monitoring the snowpack. Will it someday remove the need for researchers to hike in and measure by hand? Some areas require a multi-week trek. (AP via San Jose Mercury News)
  • KQED has an explainer on reservoir levels and why they're worse than we think. So why is this in the cool section of the news and not the bad? They've made a really neat visualization of the reservoir gains and losses over the years. (KQED)

The ... what?

  • The drought is pretty much bad for everyone, except for gold panners. They're able to get an earlier start, and supply stores are seeing an increase in business. I think the coolest part is this nugget (hyuk-hyuk):
The drought has exposed old roads, bridges, railway lines and junked cars that are usually submerged in lakes and reservoirs. At the Folsom Lake reservoir, the water's retreat revealed the remnants of a Gold Rush mining town called Mormon Island, which was flooded when the dam was built in the 1950s. (AP via Times Herald)
  • Take the factoid that a single marijuana plant needs an average of six gallons of water a day, and you get a whole new reason to be annoyed with potheads. Mothers, try using the drought as an argument for your kids to quit already. (Idaho Statesman)

All right, enough news. Go play outside.

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