Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Local Water Blogs

A week or so ago, a young woman came up and introduced herself as Abby, and asked if I wasn't the person who did this blog... which, of course, I am. She then proceeded to flatter me mercilessly. I always feel a little awkward getting complimented, but you know, I can deal. So I asked her what she did, and she's a student in international water issues.

Now water isn't really my "thing," by which I mean it's interesting, but I've spent very little time actually learning about water issues. I had a single class in hydrogeology as an undergrad, which I found painfully tedious; I don't remember whether I dropped or flunked it. I know when I graduated I saw groundwater as one possible application of my geology degree that I could live with ethically; as much as I'm fascinated with ore minerals and their genesis and concentration, I don't want to be the person to walk into unspoiled land and say, "This looks like a mighty fine place to dig a city-sized hole." I'm glad there are people who can, and I envy them. But I'm afraid I'd feel awful doing that for a living. The point is, groundwater and remediation as a career choice just looked awful to me at the time.

On the other hand, I'm painfully aware of the importance of water issues in the arid west. Even here in "rainy" western Oregon, I'm afraid we take abundant water for granted. We haven't had any rain- to my knowledge- since mid-June. We had a near miss yesterday, and it did rain and thunder to the south of Corvallis. I like rain, and was pretty excited, then disappointed when it didn't make it here.

I have been following Todd Jarvis' Rainbow Water Coalition since early May, but Abby pointed me at a couple of other local water blogs: her own is Water for the Ages. She's in the midst of graduate student crunch right now, though, so posting is light. The other is Michael Campana's Water Wired, and the impetus for this post.

Today's piece is "So You Think You Know Western Water Law? Read 'Ten Water Laws of the West,'" and it's a hoot. I'll just excerpt the conclusion, and Campana ends each of his posts with a quote; I like this one, so it's included too. Click over and read the whole thing; if you're at all familiar with western US water issues, "you'll laugh until you cry."

Conclusion: The principles that govern Western water law and policy have a long and somewhat distinguished history. It should also be noted that similar arid environment ditch-dependent civilizations ultimately collapsed under extreme environmental stresses, internal political conflict, and invasion by barbarian hordes. This is worth contemplating during a drought with various water interests fighting over who will get water in times of future shortages while the streets of Santa Monica or Scottsdale or Tucson are filled with RVs with New Jersey license plates.
"Human beings were invented by water to transport it uphill." -- Unknown

And I'd be remiss not to mention Anne Jefferson, who in addition to broader geoblogging at Highly Allochthonous, also blogs on watery topics at Watershed Hydrogeology Blog. Anne is currently at UNC Charlotte, but did her PhD here at Oregon State on Cascades hydrogeology. As a result, I think of her as a "local" blogger.

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