Cal State San Bernardino Using California’s Last Year of Water As Quickly as Possible
“Think more, use less water.” — Prophet of California Climate, Bill Patzert, speaking at the Cal State San Bernardino Water Conference, 2014
I can’t stand to see water wasted these days. It’s the most basic form of gluttony and thanklessness manifesting in the upside-down morals and ethics of society. We aren’t grateful for the most necessary resource on this planet other than oxygen.
If you’ve read the latest reports about California’s statewide drought, record low levels of snow pack in the mountains, and quickly diminishing underground water sources, you will be disgusted to see our state’s universities wasting water as if our reservoirs are threatening to bust and overflow with excessive water.
When California turns back into a desert (when it runs out of water), one-third of America’s most precious produce will not exist.
The Midwest carries the corn and soybean load for the nation, but California grows the bulk of the rest: tomatoes, avocados, broccoli, carrots, oranges, apples, grapes, peaches, and so on.
But you want to suck up the last of the aquifers and reservoirs to feed the lawn?
Here are two more photos I captured last night after walking home from a dreary little play.
There are many geysers like this one throughout the university. I’ve only recently become so appalled by the wastage that I began to document these issues. They aren’t in back alleys or behind buildings. They are plain for anyone to see walking along Northpark Boulevard.
In the background you can see other sprinklers working properly, yet why are they working at all when NASA scientists estimate California has one year of water left in its reservoirs, and we’ve got the hot spring, summer, and fall months yet to come.
A few yards along the sidewalk another sprinkler was in clear violation of Gov Brown’s water restrictions.
If the goal is to keep two feet of the sidewalk clean, it’s working. Another sprinkler just out of range of this photo is blasting water high into a couple of trees and ending up in the parking lot beyond.
SAN BERNARDINO — In a perfect world, when your state is suffering the most severe drought conditions of the past one hundred plus years, businesses, homeowners, and universities would stop pumping untold amounts of water to keep their lawns green.
It just seems suicidal to me, to take pleasure in a lush green lawn when people like Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory says California has “one year of water supply left in its water reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing.”
Famiglietti made headline news with his assessment of California’s water levels (which is ultimately the state’s first mode of survival for the future, but that shouldn’t have to be mentioned) when he wrote his op-ed at the LA Times with the provocative title of California having one year of water left. He asked, Will you ration now?
Cal State San Bernardino is just one of those universities that runs its sprinkler systems like it’s still 2005, one of the wettest years on record. But all that water is gone now. There’s very little left.
CSUSB officials will tell you not to worry, they pump water from underground. There’s plenty, they say, to sprinkle the damn lawn. Yet that doesn’t ring true with California’s situation. The San Bernardino Basin’s groundwater levels are at their lowest.
Very few people seem worried. Maybe I’m paranoid. Jay Famiglietti and myself.
I live across the street from the Cal State San Bernardino campus, and walking to the gym, I noticed CSUSB’s sprinkler system was running full blast. Water blowing in every direction on an outlying chunk of lawn.
They’d been gushing so long by that time in late morning, the water had pooled in the center of the grass. Smaller sprinklers percolated and bubbled water between the erect sprinklers shooting ten feet into the air like miniature fire hydrants with their heads ripped off.
I had to tiptoe across the strip of overwatered grass. My shoes squished with every step. Standing in the parking lot, I saw the water was also streaming along the curb and into the gutter (which was restricted in 2014 by the State Water Resources Control Board).
If, perhaps, the university were using grey water, the act wouldn’t seem so flagrant. Grey water is water that has been used to shower or wash clothes, but is then used again for purposes that don’t require fresh water suitable for drinking and cooking. Like flooding your grass. There should be plenty of that water from the dormitories that could be collected.
If we don’t adopt a scheme such as that, we Californians might be forced to drink our own grey water within the next five or ten years.
After working out at the gym for an hour, the sprinklers were still pumping away. In my apartment, throughout the afternoon, I monitored the watering across the street. All afternoon they continued, and on into dusk, until the sprinklers couldn’t be seen any longer.
Doesn’t that bother anyone? I don’t want to live in a city with a bunch of water ninnies and nannies reporting each other’s habits, but then again, the statistics we’re facing are grim. The people are oblivious.
According to Famiglietti:
- January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895.
- Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows.
- The total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014.
- Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011.
- Currently, the state has about one year left of water in its reservoirs.
California’s back up plan in action, it seems, is to live life as usual. Maybe they want us to pray about it.
If we want to take a spiritual stance on the issue so we can keep blissfully ignorant while we drain what’s left of our underwater reserves to soak our lawns, we can heed the warning my guru gave us:
“God holds back necessary resources from a people turned wicked or ungrateful for the blessings given them.”
Of course, this is 2015, as my guru is wont to say, and nobody really believes in an all-encompassing higher power these days because we worship at the altar of scientific theory and technological advancement. And wouldn’t we have seen God by now, with that Hubble Space Telescope?
A breathless lady who overheard him said in retort, “Well, if we’re so darn ungrateful for rain, then how come it still rains like crazy sometimes?”
To which my guru responded, “It’s for the animals, you fool! It’s not the fault of the striped skunk, the wily coyote, the Western skink, and the dusty wing butterfly that their landmass we call California was massively populated by ingrates, gold diggers, and dope pushers.”
Call my spiritualist old-fashioned, but a little thankfulness would go a long way. If it didn’t bring more rain, it would at least strike the proper attitude in preserving what precious water we have left, and hopefully that would allow our state officials to navigate us through this drought. A drought that could go on for another year, or twenty, or even throughout the rest of the century.
I have nothing against green lawns, but maybe, for awhile, we can let them get brown. We’ll call them golden. Come see the golden fields of Cal State San Bernardino! Come golf on the golden grounds of California!
[photo of Cal State San Bernardino from