gmhTODAY 14 gmhToday May June 2017 - Page 12

Our Infrastructure WATER WISDOM Written By Robin Shepherd “We never know the worth of water ‘til the well is dry.”  Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) Water, agua, H 2 0. . . No matter how you say it, water is the elixir of life. W e humans are about 60 percent water by weight. Doctors tell us to drink eight glasses of water a day to be healthy. We need even more water to bathe, cook, clean, irrigate, transport cargo, and keep our farms, offices, and factories running smoothly. It’s easy to see why we take water for granted. We just turn on the tap and out comes safe, clean water. Over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Sounds like a lot, but only 2 percent is freshwater, and most of that is locked up in ice caps and glaciers. With more than 7 billion people, we’re a thirsty planet. We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can be wise stewards of the natural resources she provides. Join TODAY as we explore water in this second installment in our series on infrastructure. gmh OUR GOLDEN STATE Zoom in to California, and we find that water is a scarce resource even in good years. The drought from 2012 through 2016 was the driest four-year stretch since the state began tracking this data 120 years ago. As we rang in the new year, Mother Nature drenched Northern California with record-breaking snow and rain. We were confronted with the vulnerabilities of our water infrastruc- ture as dams, rivers and creeks swelled to overflowing, and flooding led to the evacuation of people from their homes. With winter’s storms behind us, one thing is clear. We Californians need to develop our “water wisdom.” It’s going to take a lot more than shorter show- ers in summer and stacking sandbags in winter to solve the water challenges ahead. We’ve got to improve our water infrastructure and water management practices, and there’s no time to waste. As recently as last year, South County was in the “exceptional drought” 12 category. By mid-January of 2017, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that 42 percent of California was no longer in a drought based on rainfall, snowpack, reservoir levels, soil moisture, ground- water, and other factors. Here we are in May and groundwater levels are at or near pre-drought levels. Truth be told, we will need more wet winters to benefit from Mother Nature’s natural replenish- ment of our groundwater supplies. California Drought SIER