Introduction to Water in California

Introduction to Water in California

Introduction to Water in California

Introduction to Water in California


It takes 8 gallons of water to grow a tomato; 616 gallons to make a burger patty. In fact, the food each of us consumes per day represents an investment of 4,500 gallons of water, according to the California Farm Bureau. In this densely populated state where it rains only six months out of the year, where does all that water come from? This thoroughly engaging, concise book tells the story of California's most precious resource, tracing the journey of water in the state from the atmosphere to the snowpack to our faucets and foods. Along the way, we learn much about California itself as the book describes its rivers, lakes, wetlands, dams, and aqueducts and discusses the role of water in agriculture, the environment, and politics. Essential reading for a state facing the future with an already overextended water supply, this fascinating book shows that, for all Californians, every drop counts.

• Features 137 color photographs and 27 color maps

• Includes a table "Where Does Your Water Come From?" that answers the question for 315 California cities and towns

• Provides up-to-date information on water quality in California, covering such timely topics as Giardia, groundwater contamination, fluoride, and the bottled-water phenomenon

A book in the Californians and Their Environment subseries, dedicated to understanding human influences on the state's ecology and natural resources


A California family returned home from a summer outing. Their favorite beach had been posted with closure signs because of contaminated water, but they had found another spot down the coast. Now there was a rush for the bathrooms; toilets flushed several times, then the daughter claimed the first shower. While Mom loaded sandy bathing suits and towels into the washing machine, Dad began rinsing lettuce, tomatoes, and fruit at the kitchen sink. Their son was out in the driveway, energetically hosing salt spray off the family car. Sudsy water ran down the driveway into the sidewalk gutter, eventually falling into a nearby storm drain.

Mom mixed up a pitcher of iced tea and then settled onto a lounge chair beside the swimming pool. Opening bills, she read aloud to Dad (as he put hamburgers on the grill) from a water company insert titled “The Water We Use Each Day.”

“It took eight gallons of water to grow one of those tomatoes you just sliced,” she told her husband. “That burger patty you’re holding took 616 gallons! And my cotton jeans represent 1,800 gallons of water.”

Dad started a sprinkler going on the lawn and noticed that the swimming pool level was down. The weather was warm and dry, and the kids’ pool party had splashed plenty of water out the day before.

“Landscaping consumes about half the water Californians use at home,” Mom added, still reading. “Toilets use 20 percent and showers, another 18 percent.”

“Our water meter must be spinning like crazy right now,” Dad said, wondering when their daughter would emerge from the shower.

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