Califonia Bountiful

From the editors: Two themes that tie us together

May/June 2011 California Country magazine

Being water wise in California.

As Californians, we can justifiably take pride in the great variety and diversity of our state. Somewhere in California, you'll find nearly every type of climate or geography; you'll find small towns and big cities; and, of course, you'll find the widest array of fresh, locally grown farm products ever grown, anywhere.

In California Country, we try to provide a sense of the tremendous variety of family farms and ranches that form the backbone of California. This issue, for example, features straw­berries, rice and beef cattle, and lavender and goat cheese. In recent issues, we've written about carrots and wine, honey­bees and lemons, onions and cotton, sheep and citrus fruit, spinach and flowers.

Amid all that diversity, at least two common themes emerge: They all grow in Califor­nia, and they all need water to sustain themselves.

In California, we always live in the shadow of drought—even in years like this one, when the winter has provided adequate rain and snow. That's why we all need to be sure we're using water wisely. As spring turns to summer, and water use increases, take a minute to consider a few ways to save water, every day.

The statewide Save Our Water program offers a number of tips at its website, For example, if you turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving, you can save about 10 gallons of water a day. If you irrigate your landscaping early in the morning or later in the evening, when temperatures are cooler, you can save 25 gallons every time you water. If you use a bucket, a sponge and a hose with a self-closing nozzle when you wash your car—or use a broom instead of the hose to clean your driveway—you can save as much as 18 gallons of water a minute.

On California farms and ranches, water efficiency is a mantra: "More crop per drop." In the past 45 years or so, the total amount of water used on Cali­for­nia farms has risen less than 10 percent, while crop production has jumped more than 90 percent.

Here's how Tim Chiala, a third-generation farmer from Morgan Hill, described farmers' drive for water efficiency in a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News: "Efficient water use means farmers pay it forward by passing irrigation water along in the form of food, meeting one of the most basic human needs. … Farmers will continue to think creatively, invest in new technologies and develop drought-resistant plant varieties to grow more food with less water."

Thank you for doing your part to use water wisely.

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