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Introduction to Water in California

Introduction to Water in California: Updated with a New Preface

David Carle
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 2
Pages: 292
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  • Book Info
    Introduction to Water in California
    Book Description:

    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 in a state facing the future with an already overextended water supply, this fascinating book shows that, for all Californians, every drop counts. A new preface on recent water issues brings the book up to the minute. * Features 130 color photographs and 26 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 asGiardia,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

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94326-1
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION— Water Web: Connected Californians
    (pp. xi-xv)

    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...

    (pp. 1-33)

    A partnership between land and a planetary water cycle produces the California climate and shapes the natural landscape of the state. California’s weather is generated primarily by westerly winds off the Pacific Ocean. In the winter, low pressure in the northern Pacific sends cold, wet storms to the state. California receives 75% of its annual precipitation between November and March, the majority from December through February. The dry weather of summer is associated with a high-pressure “dome” over the Pacific. Such “Mediterranean” climates, with wet winters and summer droughts, occur on the west coasts of continents in the middle latitudes...

    (pp. 35-83)

    Study a map of California’s pristine waterscape (map 4). Some of its major features are startlingly unfamiliar to twenty-first-century Californians. The massive Tulare Lake, far bigger than Lake Tahoe, occupies the southern end of the Central Valley. Farther south are the smaller Buena Vista and Kern Lakes. Those three lakes, gone from most of today’s maps, are connected by expanses of freshwater marsh, sloughs that flood during wet seasons. The Salton Sea is missing; its basin is marked as a region of saline land that experiences “intermittent water.” (At least four times between 700 and 1580 A.D., sediments built up...

    (pp. 85-131)

    Stand at the top of a snow-covered ski run on the summit of Mammoth Mountain in the winter, and think about where the water under your feet may be by midsummer. Much of what drains eastward will end up in Los Angeles instead of Owens Lake. Turn around for a view of the western slope; there water will run down to the San Joaquin River. Some of the river water may reach the Central Valley and turn northward toward San Francisco Bay. Most of it, however, will be diverted onto farm fields in the San Joaquin Valley.

    Or get out...

    (pp. 133-177)

    Ninety-five percent of California’s original wetlands and 89 percent of its riparian woodlands are gone. About 1,400 dams in California convert flowing rivers and streams into reservoirs; in the Sierra Nevada, 600 river-miles have been flooded. (Map 21.) It is no coincidence that California is also the state with the most endangered and threatened species.

    Water development and changes in the waterscape are responsible for California’s distinction as one of the globe’s extinction epicenters of the twentieth century. Dams store water supply, generate electricity, and help control flooding. They also destroy many of the natural processes of rivers and river...

  9. MEETING THE CHALLENGES: California’s Water Future
    (pp. 179-223)

    The future of California water management will be guided by our laws. All water within California is owned by the state on behalf of the people. Since 1928, the California Constitution has required that water be put to the highest beneficial use; through most of the twentieth century that was interpreted as domestic or profit-making uses. The constitution also prohibits waste or unreasonable uses.

    One of the first legal decisions to regulate impacts from water use came in 1884, when hydraulic miners were ordered to keep their waste-laden runoff confined on their own property so it would no longer damage...

    (pp. 225-226)
    (pp. 227-234)
    (pp. 235-236)
    (pp. 237-244)
    (pp. 245-246)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 247-261)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 263-264)