California’s Water Crisis: A Reading List

Longreads

When it finally rains, it pours. With all the focus this week on the “storm of the decade,” it’s easy to forget that California has experienced its most severe drought in the last 1,200 years. In fact, growing up in California, everyone always told me to conserve water — from my parents to my teachers to my camp counselors. We’re in a drought, they would say. As a child, I could never quite grasp what that meant, as I lived in a suburb on the San Francisco Peninsula, seemingly far from the regions that relied on water to live and work, to produce the crops we ate — that I ate.

Here are five perspectives on California’s water war, from one journalist’s report from the farms of the Central Valley to an ever-resonant essay on water by Joan Didion, written 35 years ago.

1. “Zero Percent Water.” (Alan…

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