Statewide drought calls for increased conservation, knowledge
THE SANTA CLARA
February 6, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in California as a result of the recent scarcity of rainfall so severe that experts speculate it could be the driest season on record. Recently, Santa Clara joined the discussion to raise awareness about the issue.
A new exhibit at the university’s de Saisset Museum explores the history of water concerns in the Santa Clara Valley and attempts to facilitate discussion about this topic.
Commissioned by the de Saisset, “Sip. Do Not Gulp.” chronicles the history of water and its relationship to food production in the Santa Clara Valley from the time of the Ohlone people, through the Spanish mission period and up to its current manifestation: the Silicon Valley.
French artist Michele Guieu completed the featured mural, a painting that stretches across three walls of an exhibit room in the de Saisset, in a week and a half. The piece is part of a larger program sponsored by the San Jose Museum of Art — a series of exhibits entitled “Around the Table,” which focuses on food consumption.
The exhibit, which opened on the same day as Brown’s declaration of emergency, is especially pertinent now.
“Food and water are very interconnected,” said Lindsey Kouvaris, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the de Saisset Museum.
That was the driving idea behind this installment.
The mural starts at one end with the lush Santa Clara Valley that the Ohlone people inhabited and slowly transitions into images of the industrialized Silicon Valley we know today. Between these two images, it is shown how the arrival of the European settlers marked the beginning of excessive irrigation and agriculture production.
“This water issue is something that is serious,” said Kouvaris. “It affects all of us and it’s been here for a long time and people just don’t care, or don’t know. It’s really amazing and a little bit scary.”
The center wall holds a screen that plays a documentary composed of interviews with various experts on water use in modern society. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to share strategies for saving water by writing them on small blue plates and posting them along the mural.
The interactive exhibit invites visitors to partake in the water discussion, which has already impacted campus life. The Facilities Department has been working to fix leaks and cut back on general water usage in an attempt to decrease consumption by 20 percent.
Lindsey Kalkbrenner, director of the Center for Sustainability on campus, is calling on all students to help reduce overall water usage and provide tips that everyone can use to make a difference.
Every time we turn on a light, we’re using water
“Every time we turn on a light, we’re using water,” said Kalkbrenner, who encourages students to use the water footprint calculation tool on the Center for Sustainability’s website to figure out where to cut back.
Water may be a top political issue in the near future with the way things are headed.
Last Friday, state officials announced that local agencies will no longer receive water from the state’s diminishing reserves starting in the spring, a decision that affects approximately 25 million people in California.
The mural will be on display until March 16.
Contact Nicolas Sonnenburg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dan Hanower contributed to this report.