Chronicles of an Overcrowded State, #Californiadrought

Written June 12, 2015

A Tale from the Drought

We opened up the pool today because it’s a “Smart Day” meaning we are to use the minimum possible amount of electricity. These Smart Days occur on the hottest days. The combination of heat and not running the air conditioner enticed us to spend the water needed to remove the pool cover and float all day on a raft. Well not me, actually, just my husband. I am here writing this instead of working on one of my manuscripts, which I do not understand. Perhaps my lapse is because this whole scene unfolding outside my window is interesting and making me want to report.

The scene in the yard is full of bird action. The open pool seems to have attracted birds from everywhere. All kinds of species are landing on power lines and tree branches, fences, and the roof, then calling out to each other. I think the first birds discover the water by flying around searching in general then call out the location when water is spotted. The message is understood by other members of his species. Of course some non-species members have worked out the meaning of other species’ bird calls, for survival reasons, and so members of these other species start to arrive as well. I’m not sure if this is how it actually works, but it is my theory, and I did hear this recently about birds understanding other species’ calls.

Waterfall during flush years
Waterfall during flush years

The total number of birds is limited, though. The population seems to adjust to the amount of resources available in a region, so I think only birds in about a four-house radius are coming for the water.

Birds bathing in the pools
Robin bathing in a pool (which no longer exists due to not running the waterfall)

I think that California is going through an adjustment like the ones the birds make naturally. California has cut residential water limits to the bare bones. Logically, if the state continues to grow in population, the water managers will have to cut more deeply next time we are in this situation. There is already a lot of development in the pipeline, but once that dries up, I think there will be a hue and cry from voters to put a stop to development. Or perhaps fewer people will be attracted to move here knowing they are moving into tightening water restrictions. Or both. In this sense, the drought is probably not entirely bad. Not that I want to limit California’s population, but I think if we want California to be a sustainable state, growth has to be constrained to the amount of resources available in the area. Birds in nature distribute themselves over an area in numbers appropriate for the resources available. California can manage with the amount of water expected, but only through careful management. I hope that when the rains come back, which they already are starting to do, we remember this lesson and have better informed public policy on development.

Here’s a newsflash. Apparently there is something else we can do to increase the number of people who can live here in California. Eat veggie burgers! Check out this statement from Governor Brown: