Water in California

Here are some things we learned from Introduction to Water In California by David Carle:

  • manufacturing 28 million water bottles a year for US sales required 17 million barrels of oil.

  • making one-time, plastic water bottles takes three times as much water as went inside each container (and produced a lot of carbon dioxide, 2.5 million tons)

  • an acre-foot of water, a standard measurement, is equal to 325,851 gallons, “which would cover a football field one foot deep.” A common estimate is that an acre-foot meets the domestic needs of five to eight people

  • snow that falls when it’s extra cold can contain significantly less water per cubic foot as snow that falls closer to 32 degrees

  • about seven million acre-feet make it to the state aquifers each year. About 400,000 acre feet come off the Eastern Sierra, averaging enough water per year for about 3.2 million people

  • “coastal redwoods specialize in growing massive on long, slow drinks of harvested summer fog”

  • 55% of all the country’s produce is grown in California

  • almost all of the eared grebes in North America use the Salton Sea at some point
  • There are an estimated 6.9 million dogs and 7.7 million cats in California

Great book, I’d recommend it. The topic of water in California is so complex, involving so many agencies and mandated plans and districts and projects and regulatory commissions. The most alarming fact in this book is that the twentieth century was California’s third or fourth wettest century of the past four thousand years. So all our plans, desperate as they often are, may be built on rosy assumptions that are unlikely to hold.

Since I got to California in 2004 and read Cadillac Desert, I’ve been trying to understand California’s water system. In the far north of the state, roaring rivers run through redwood forests and down to the sea, and it’s wet almost every day. In the southeast of the state, there are places where it hardly ever rains. A big feature on present day maps of the state is the Salton Sea, a “new” lake (though it’s been flooding there on and off for thousands of years). A big feature on old maps of the state is the Tulare Lake, which has now vanished. The Tulare aquifer is still used to grow cotton, one of the most water intensive crops you can plant. Across the center of the state runs a mountain system that traps huge amounts of moisture as snow, and still has at least one glacier. The central valley of the state was once an intermittent wetland, there were times when you could’ve almost paddled a boat from Bakersfield to Sacramento.

There’s not nearly enough water for southern California in southern California, that’s why our tap water has to travel three hundred miles. Despite that, through our produce and bottled water like Arrowhead, we export water. Yet turn on your tap, and out comes the water. It’s a miracle (and maybe some kind of crime, as the movie Chinatown suggests).

I see Slate Star Codex wrote a piece in 2015 about how much water goes to alfalfa, for feeding cows. California also exports water in the form of meat, which I guess is not ideal.


Water in the Mojave

 

High in the rocks water was collecting from the recent rains

Splashing down, pooling in the natural tanks

Saw a frog (California tree frog?) in this one.

Some of the plants out there flower in ways that seem monstrous, almost obscene

Is this a natural formation in the rock, or an ancient ruin?

More archaeology will be needed at this site.


Spinning Ice Disk

Nothing to worry about, we’re told.


Guess how much Nestlé pays for the water in Arrowhead Water

Nestlé gets the water for Arrowhead in the San Bernadino National Forest, owned by you and me, the American people.

In 2016, Nestlé took 32 million gallons of water from the national forest, in an area not known for its abundance of fresh water.

How much did they pay for this?  I found the answer in a recent issue of High Country News:

$2,050?!  I feel like I’m getting ripped off!

More in the Desert Sun.

Swung by Lake Arrowhead this weekend:


The Canny Admirals

the-canny-admirals

Found this picture of John McCain Sr. (the Senator’s grandfather) and William “Bull” Halsey on Wiki while looking up something or another.

mcain

Here’s McCain Sr and Junior (the Senator’s dad) at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.  McCain Sr. dropped dead four days later.

 


Nestle

nestle

In the Swabian dialect, “Nestle” is a small bird’s nest.

So says the Wiki for Henri Nestle.  I was reading about Nestle because I was trying to learn who owns the spring sources for the major bottled waters in the United States.

Here are our popular waters, by sales in billions of $$:

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Dasani and Aquafina are literally just purified municipal tap water with salt added:

Dasani uses tap water from local municipal water supplies, filters it using the process of reverse osmosis, and adds trace amounts of minerals, including magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt), potassium chloride and table salt (sodium chloride).

Nestle Pure Life as I understand it comes from springs in Canada:

Nestlé’s Aberfoyle Springs plant currently bottles two different waters: the on-site Aberfoyle spring water, and spring water tankered in from Cedar Valley Spring in Erin, Ontario. In addition, spring water is botted on-site in Hope, British Columbia. In the United States, Nestlé Pure Life is a purified (filtered) water.

Next is Poland Spring, owned by Nestle.  Vitaminwater I don’t care about.

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and:

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Fiji water is owned by David Brooks’ buddies:

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How about local SoCal water sources, like Arrowhead?:

ArrowHead Mtn Spring Water

Nestle again!

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Here’s an interesting one: Crystal Geyser, the source of which is up on the 395, in bleak country near the Owens Lake, source of LA tap water:

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The owner there is:

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We had to check in with Anonymous Investor on that one:

I never heard of Otsuka before, but just browsed through their 2015 annual report.

Lots of interesting stuff here.  Most of their business (67%) is pharmaceuticals. And the lion’s share of that came from Abilify.  When Abilify went generic in 2015, their earnings dropped off a cliff, although they still managed to stay profitable.

Crystal Geyser is a tiny sliver of their business.  It’s part of their “consumer products” segment. An honor it shares with “Bon Curry,” a line of instant curries–

http://www.amazon.com/Bon-Curry-Gold-180g-pieces/dp/B00BXW9SAM

–and a Gatorade knockoff called “Match”.

http://www.amazon.com/Otsuka-Foods-MATCH-1-5LPETX8-pieces/dp/B010S5VRNK

All together, the consumer products division comprises only 2.8% of the company’s total sales.

So if you buy the stock, what you are getting is mostly the drug business.

Anyway.  If you wish to own fresh springs, the way to do it seems to be to buy Nestle stock, as Joshua Kennon enthusiastically advises.  Nestle also owns Perrier, whose slim cans I’m getting into.

perrier_slim_cans_canada_01

You should never buy a stock though without looking at a picture of the company’s CEO.  What do we think of Paul Bulcke?

Paul Bulcke

On August 30, 2012, Bulcke claimed that water is not a human right and should be privatized. He was quoted as saying “”If something isn’t given a value, people tend to waste it. Water is our most useful resource, but those using it often don’t even cover the costs of its infrastructure. Fresh water is being massively overused at nature’s expense, but it seems only a global crisis will make us realise the importance of the issue. What is environmentally unsustainable today will become socially unsustainable in the future,

(hmm, that quote is sourced on wiki to this article:

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but I don’t see it).

File this under our ongoing interest in “sources.”