Time to be Honest about the Drought

GOT DROUGHT?-What if I told you there was a great way to fight the drought that’s been endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown, but it’s an approach you’ve probably never heard of? 

There is a little known quote from our governor that explains a lot about the current water crisis and offers insight into a great way to help put our state onto a real path to a water sustainable future. 

In early June, Governor Brown sat down with Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner to discuss the future of California in the context of the current drought. 

Brown had an interesting piece of advice on water conservation. He explained in a candid moment, “If you ask me, I think you should be eating veggie burgers.” 

Where is this coming from, you might ask? Well there are some little-known facts out there that are likely to shock you and make you think twice about your next meal. 

According to the Pacific Institute’s report on California’s Water Footprint, a whopping 47% of overall water use is linked to animal agriculture. This includes water for animals, water for animal feed, and water to clean meat as it’s processed. 

That’s a startling number for many, but the shock won’t end there. 

In contrast to that 47% is the tiny 4% of overall water use in the Golden State that is classified as residential use. 

Just one more number and a little bit of simple math. If Californians follow Governor Brown’s 25% reduction orders which pertain to our residential water use and only 4% of overall water use is residential, a 25% cut in residential use will result in an overall reduction of our water use of just 1%. 

While I’m no expert on water systems and I’m certainly not a master mathematician, I’m still quite sure a 1% reduction in use is not going to do much in this devastating drought, particularly when NASA recently claimed the state would require 11 trillion gallons of water to replenish its depleted water resources. 

Many Californians don’t know these statistics despite the fact that in the vegan, vegetarian and animal rights communities, these numbers are widely known. 

One woman is trying to get this information out to the wider community via an educational campaign that is both old-school and highly effective. 

Santa Monica local and vegan artist-activist Karen Fiorito is launching a billboard campaign that will explain in simple terms and with easy-to-understand graphics just how much water is required to produce everyday animal products like milk and burgers. 

These billboards, that can reach over a million people a month in the Los Angeles area (the launching pad for the campaign,) will reveal an ugly truth: just one beef hamburger requires 1,300 gallons of water to produce and that’s according to the United States government. 

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She hopes to attract attention to her cause with shocking numbers that will motivate people to look deeper into animal agriculture’s water footprint in California. Residents will also find that they can get even more protein from a veggie burger that requires only 42 gallons of water to produce. 

Fiorito wants to get this information out because she is convinced that once Californians have the facts, they will take the steps necessary to conserve water and put a dent in this drought. She is particularly confident in light of the recently reported 27% cuts in residential water use in June. 

Fiorito’s organization, Got Drought?, will launch this campaign in October and hopes to raise enough money to take the campaign to other major cities in California like San Francisco and San Diego. 

Knowledge is power and in times like this when every single drop of water counts, giving the power to conserve water to every single person is one of the most important steps we can take.


(Jack Schwada is a communications professional currently working for Got Drought? -- an environmental organization based out of Los Angeles. He has worked in public and media relations and is a Los Angeles native.)





Vol 13 Issue 70

Pub: Aug 28, 2015