I wrote a post a little more than a year ago about California’s drought and the potential impact of bottled water. This was followed by a statement minimizing the impact of water bottling from someone at the International Bottled Water Association; one year later, the drought has worsened to the point where California is imposing water use restrictions, and picketers are attempting to shut down a Nestlé bottling plant in Sacramento.
For the record, that Nestlé plant is using an estimated 80 million gallons each year, which is roughly 0.0007% of California’s total water use, and 0.007% of what is used just to farm almonds. That is to say, for every bottle of water Nestlé produces, California dumps 3-4 bathtubs worth on almonds. I won’t defend water bottling–every wasteful use of water seems open to opposition during such a drought–but maybe those protesters would do better to shut down almond farms.
If you’re like me, and you’ve ever played SimCity, you might be wondering about an apparently obvious solution to California’s crisis. What about desalinization? I mean, it is a coastal state, right? There’s a basically limitless supply of water right next door, in the form of the world’s largest ocean–and of course the water cycle means that, while water once used may not return to the particular mountains or streams from which it was drawn, it will eventually return to the oceans.