Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Of woolly mammoths and farming

As the glaciers melted about 10,000 years ago, torrents of freshly melted ice and snow were sent rushing down the Santa Clarita Valley. Was that water free of chloride — the naturally occurring component of common table salt now pitting downstream strawberry farmers against local upstream tax-strapped homeowners? Answer: Not so much to concern anyone worried about contamination. Mammoths and saber-toothed cats that roamed this valley and later experienced trouble with tar pits in Southern California had become extinct by the time the glaciers melted, paving the way for a variety of unique fish and fowl to enjoy pristine Santa Clara River water. The purity of the post-glacial water pretty much provided the benchmark for federal legislators who defined uncontaminated water in 1972 when they hammered out the Clean Water Act. Basically, the water enjoyed by all Americans should be free of all contaminants — as if it were rainwater, according to the act. Since the ice age, however, a lot has ended up in the Santa Clara River, providing a spicy, if not salty, history...more

No comments: