Water is a very complex and divisive issue out west. If you have ever been to Pasadena, which is east of Los Angeles you can get very confused. Even though Southern California is basically a desert once you move away from the coast, Pasadena is lush and green with landscaping more like the English countryside. The story of how that happened is controversial to this day and is best described as “The Water Wars”. If you’ve seen the movie “Chinatown” then you know the story. Water has been basically “stolen” from one region and piped to another.
Water Wars – recommended reading
“Cadillac Desert – The American West and Its Disappearing Water” by Marc Reisner
On the west side of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades, which run 400 miles north to south and is approximately 70 miles across east to west, you will find populated cities and towns and prosperous-looking farms. But the desert conditions on the east side tell a different story. When snow and drenching rain move east, moisture drops immediately from as much as 150 inches of precipitation on the western slope to as little as four inches on the eastern. The mountains block the passage of moisture. Warm moist air is “pulled” by the winds over the mountains. It then drops all its rain on the mountains and the dry air moves eastward. This Sierra Nevada snowpack is the major source of water for western states. Several major aqueducts serving both agriculture and urban areas distributes water throughout So Cal. This is our “water bank” - everything depends on capturing it behind dams, storing it and rerouting it in concrete rivers over distances of hundreds of miles.
The other source of water for So Cal is the Colorado river. This river rises high in the Rockies a trickle of frigid snowmelt bubbling down the mountains begins its fifteen hundred mile journey to the Gulf of California. It serves the water needs of 7 states as it winds it’s way south all the way to Mexico. One third of its flow goes to California where some of it irrigates the Imperial Valley and the rest allows Los Angeles and San Diego to exist. The Colorado River Aqueduct is a 242 mile “concrete river” that takes water from the Colorado river and deposits it in reservoirs for use by So Cal.
(future topics) Aquifers
Underground aquifers a legacy of the ice ages and their glacial melt but even this water which will be gone within a hundred years
(future topics) Radiation and Las Vegas
Where to get the best gardening advice
Remember to consult gardening books that most closely address the unique So Cal conditions. Any gardening book that tries to give advice to a larger area ie: all of western US will be wrong for So Cal.
My bible is:
Southern California Gardening - A Month by Month Guide by Pat Welch
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