Gloom Does Not Have to Mean Doom for California's Epic Drought
The water news from California keeps getting worse. Last week’s final snowpack tally from the Sierra Nevada mountains—one of the state’s key water lifelines—is “dire” and “obliterated” previous record lows, David Rizzardo, chief of snow surveys and water supply forecasting at California’s Department of Water Resources, told reporters on Wednesday.
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On the same day, Gov. Jerry Brown announced first-ever mandatory restrictions aimed at reducing the state’s urban water use by 25 percent. And yesterday a new report by the Risky Business Project forecast even worse conditions in the future for the Golden State—including hotter temperatures, increased drought, declining crop yields and rising sea levels—due to escalating climate change impacts.
Gloomy, for sure. But it doesn’t have to mean doom. Befitting its rich historic tradition, California controls its own destiny when it comes to preserving precious water resources and curbing carbon pollution—all while maintaining a healthy economy. But bold actions are needed now. “We have a choice between protecting our economy by protecting our environment—or allowing environmental havoc to create economic havoc,” says former U.S. Treasurer Secretary Robert Rubin said, a Risky Business Project co-chair in announcing last week’s “Climate Risk in the Golden State” report.
California has already shown it is up to the challenge. Its leadership in enacting strong climate policies—the state’s AB32 law being the centerpiece—and catalyzing clean energy growth is unsurpassed in the country. Clean energy jobs, rooftop solar installations, electric car sales, overall renewable energy sourcing —on all of these fronts, California, the world’s seventh biggest economy, is leading.
And the business community has openly embraced the state’s leadership, too—Apple’s $850 million project to buy 130 megawatts of home-grown solar power from First Solar, being just one of the latest examples.
The state’s water scarcity challenges are manageable, too. But again bold leadership is needed. The Governor’s new water restrictions and last year’s passage of a $7.5 billion water bond and groundwater law are critical and begin to put California on an improved path. Yet, more still needs to be done.
For example, the groundwater law needs faster implementation. With groundwater levels dropping fast, it is becoming clear that California cannot wait until 2020 to have local communities adopt groundwater management plans, as the current law calls for.
Better water-use disclosure—especially when it comes to agriculture water use –is another must, as Senator Fran Pavley is proposing in a bill this year. “Groundwater levels are dropping precipitously, especially in San Joaquin Valley,” said Heather Cooley, director of the Pacific Institute’s water program. “Yet we don’t have good data on how much groundwater is being pumped.”
Some businesses are already embracing such steps. Driscoll’s, a major berry grower based on California’s Central Coast, requires its growers in Pajaro Valley to collect and track water use data using remote sensing from groundwater pumps.
Driscoll’s is also spearheading a bold public/private partnership, the Community Water Dialogue, to develop local, watershed-based solutions to the valley’s water challenges. It’s the kind of project many experts agree are greatly needed all across the state.
“The state of California has to deal with groundwater, or we’re going to ruin this state,” said Driscoll’s CEO Miles Reiter, during a recent grower’s tour in Pajaro Valley, which gets virtually all of its water from groundwater.
Driscoll’s also joined forces last month with a half-dozen California businesses on the “Connect the Drops” business initiative, which calls for “fresh thinking, shared purpose and bold solutions” from California’s government and private sector in facing the state’s unprecedented water challenges. The Ceres-organized effort also includes diverse companies such as Coca Cola, KB Home, General Mills, Levi Strauss & Co., Gap and Symantec. These companies have come together to help bridge ongoing divisions in the state that have for years blocked progress for sustainable water policies.
Reiter, for one, says he welcomes all the attention the drought is getting.
“Everybody is worried about this, whether they admit it or not,” he said last month. “And it’s really sort of liberating to just quit arguing about if there’s a problem and (start tackling it).”
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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