These journal entries were written back in 2016, during our first discovery stages of the startup Permalution, while researching about the fog water scene in San Francisco, CA.
February 28, 2016
After over a year of working and researching into California's water scenario, drought, and its stakeholders, something I have learned about the whole water landscape, is that it is very special.
I went to EPA’s public hearings in Sacramento, bought a bag of organic strawberries in the town’s farmer market, and took a front-row seat and observed the panels, the groups, the problems, the chairwomen and chairmen’s reactions. For me, this is a deeper level of entertainment than some movies would ever be. This is real-life drama and situations, no superman rushing in to save the world here though. I’d run out of strawberries quite fast.
It was very interesting to see the dynamic of the speakers. The big firm that would present first, offering the funding of the construction of a dam, and water transportation as a solution to the drought, telling their side of the story. However, after being done, they would leave with their suits and briefcases, without listening to the local panelist that would address their concern and direct experiences on the matter too. They clearly did not care to listen to anyone else.
On the other hand, the wetlands and local farmers groups for fish and local birds would give their talk on their topics of knowledge, many were offering their views of the problems, especially in regards to the constructions of dams and water transportation consequences in the Delta river, but not many offered a solution.
One panelist mentioned that over 80% of the population of salmon eggs that were laid by the salmon in the rivers were dead because of the low water levels and therefore increased water temperature, killing the eggs that could not hatch in such high temperatures. One of the chairmen asked “Excuse me, at what temperature did you mention salmon eggs die?” which seemed quite odd given that these people are making the decision in regards to the State’s water and natural resources, still they do not know the basics of life that their decisions impact directly. We need to see that is not because of carelessness or malice. I thought to myself that perhaps policymakers and lawyers sitting as chairman would the marine biology impacted directly by their decisions.
I also found that most companies and engineers that are working in the desalination sector do not know that ocean water needs to remain in the sea for at least 3,000 years before it can go into the rivers, in which it resides for about 2–6 months, and then moves into the atmosphere for about 8–9 days.
Once you look deep enough, you begin to wonder on the fact that it was a “big infrastructure water solution” from the Central Valley Water Project planned in 1874 and implemented in 1933 (yes, these people did not even have a smartphone or the information we have at hand nowadays), that partially drove off into a “big infrastructure water problem” that we see today and it is now a new big infrastructure “solution” that we are aiming towards desalination, which will disrupt water cycles and marine life immensely and will again become a big infrastructure water problem.
I was able to see, however, a great effort on behalf of people, from civilians to a few government officials, who did seem to understand the urgency and are working towards simpler solutions, by renewing their own water even if it means showering with a bucket on the floor and collecting the water for the outside garden.
There is still much to do, wonderful solutions and technologies are coming to the surface, and we need to properly care for these seeds that might shift the probabilities towards a water-balanced future for the West Coast, and the world.
Tatiana Estevez Carlucci