California is experiencing a historic drought
. Due to the impacts of climate change there is no way of knowing how long the California drought will last. So far, their solutions such as Save Our Water
have been like trying to slow Niagara Falls with a band-aid.
Despite their hashtag #EveryDropCounts, their water-saving tips focus only on household use, which accounts for 4% of California's water footprint. But a whopping 47% of drought-stricken California’s water footprint is associated with meat and dairy products, per Pacific Institute's 2012 report California's Water Footprint. "Almost half of the average Californian’s water footprint is associated with the consumption of meat and dairy products." Their report also clearly shows that animal feed has the greatest water requirement of any crop in California, far more than almonds and avocados, as well as any other human use.
Climate deniers have their heads in the sand, but we consumers also do our best to deny the connection between our consumption and the climate crisis.
The water footprint of the average Californian is 1,500 gallons per day, slightly less than the average American but considerably more than the average resident in other developed countries or in the rest of the world.
California’s total water footprint is an estimated 64 million acre-feet of water. That’s more than double the amount of water that flows down both of the state’s two largest rivers, the Sacramento and San Joaquin, in an average year. An estimated 38 million acre-feet of water is used to produce goods and services within California. Half of that water is used for goods that are then exported and consumed outside the state. The remainder – about 19 million acre-feet of water – is used to produce goods that are consumed in California. An additional 44 million acre-feet of water is required to produce the goods and services that are imported into California and consumed here, making California a net importer of virtual water.
Yes, half of California's water usage is used for production of products that are then exported and consumed outside the state. California even uses it's precious water to help raise livestock in China
. How sustainable can that be in a state with only one year of water
saved for its own use?
More than 90% of California’s water footprint is associated with agricultural products: meat and dairy products have especially large water footprints due to the water-intensive feed required to raise the animals. An additional 4% of the state’s water footprint is associated with direct household water consumption (primarily for watering lawns and gardens), and the remaining 3% with other industrial products we consume, such as clothing and electronics.
There is one Californian politician
who is trying to be realistic in dealing with the water crisis. It helps not to be beholden to Big Ag.
Change.org has a petition from Truth or Drought which simply asks Save Our Water to begin encouraging (not forcing) residents to make more plant-based food choices while reducing or eliminating animal-based food choices, just as they encourage other means of saving much smaller amounts of water, on their website, social media channels, and elsewhere. Californians need to know the truth about information they need to make informed decisions about their water use.