Wednesday, October 4, 2023

A Lake of Summer Memories Is Now a Grim Symbol of Mendocino County’s Water Crisis

Four years have gone by since the picture on the left was taken. One of those young women sat at the very same dock in recent weeks providing a vivid reminder of the water crisis Mendocino County faces [Pictures graciously provided by Jennifer Lockwood]

Let’s face it. The quiet crisis building in the background of our Mendocino County lives is water. Though completely abstract to many residents of the county, some are well acquainted with the desiccating landscape around them. The sound of a water truck coming up the road reminds them of the parched landscape seemingly less hospitable each year.

The problem of a water crisis, like many of our community’s existential threats, is its abstract nature. Talk of some old dams being decommissioned, cubic feet per second being adjusted, and desalination plants seem foreign and far away. Reporting on the crisis is chalked full of jargon and water resource experts that fall short in stirring the radical changes necessary to bail us out of this mess.

Sometimes a couple of photographs can tell the story better than any reporter could.

Four sun-kissed young ladies sat on a Lake Mendocino dock four summers ago, the sun on their shoulders, the cool waters lapped at their toes. A pontoon boat meandered toward deeper waters. Another boat settled for a moment, bobbing up and down in the aqua-marine.

Four years later, one of those young women returned to the lake of her summer memories and found it irrevocably changed. A bog-like waterway ridden with reeds and algae has replaced the blue-green dreamscape of her youth. There are no boats. The water seems stagnant. There are no new memories made- just nostalgia for what used to be and a sinking feeling things will never be the same.

For those that have the privilege of water security in our county, consider those young women happy and carefree, those families gliding across the blueness in their boats, the sense of comfort and safety our reservoir once provided. Compare those days to the tepid puddle that stands in its place. Consider the murmurs of dried-up wells, of water wars, of a collapsing agricultural industry.

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Suddenly, the water crisis doesn’t seem far away. In fact, it’s in everyone’s very own backyard.

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  1. Non-story. No real information offered. Hype. Sprinkle in some grammatical errors. And the cherry on top: a tiresome and verbose style. Yep, it’s a lefever piece!

    • A non-story?….empty reservoirs are kind of a big deal, ya dope! Aquifers are drying up next. Do you think you have a magical water source in the walls of your home? You must not care about drinking water, agriculture for foods, personal hygiene, clean clothes, dishes, outdoor water activities, making memories with friends & family, construction to house a growing population that is consuming all the water that is drying up, etc etc…but grammar is a far more serious issue. You’re careless & very short sighted. Why don’t you write a column on why there is no water problem? Would love to read that!

      • How long did it take for matthew to realize Lake Mendo is a bit low? It’s been this way for at least 2 years straight….the issue is covered better by others who have done thorough research. This is just rehashed old news, hence non-story. Awful writing style, too.

        • Anna, you do realize this is not a “news” piece? The photographs are striking and the piece is an exploration of what they say about our water crisis. You might not like my writing style, that’s your right. But, your criticism of the article not being news falls flat because it wasn’t designed to be nor packaged to be. Thanks for your readership.

  2. Put the drain plug back in and turn the faucet back on. Brooktrails reservoirs seem full, and never got below 60-70% last year.

  3. I appreciate the article. I had no idea how low it had become & I am so far away your articles keep me up to date.. thank you

  4. I have been here for over 50 years, it’s really sad to see the lake like this the past few years, it used to be so beautiful and brought in money to the community. More later

  5. Matthew, if you look closely at the top of this page you will notice that you have indeed categorized this as “news”. I know you have a difficult time with criticism. Anyone who lives within 100 miles of lake mendocino has seen it with their own eyes already. Don’t bother reporting actual facts or numbers because your average readers can’t understand dam removal or cubic feet per second. I get your sarcasm about my readership, but the joke’s on you. A dumb audience makes for easy click farming for now. You definitely aim low compared to other local news outfits. I’ll laugh next time i see you stick out the tin can for support and donations. I only check here for two reasons: it’ll forever be free of charge, and I get to share examples of your shoddy journalism with my students. If you have any integrity you won’t censor this post.

    • You’re a teacher? Do you teach your students how to be a pompous know-it-all & to look down on others with your superior intelligence? A member of the “dumb audience” would like to know. You sound pretty jaded, lady. That is a fact!

      • That was an interesting not-needed war of words. I didn’t see either side expressing anything inaccurate, one seemed to say let’s have less drama and more facts, the other said damn you ought to take me more seriously because we’ve got a serious water problem. All right, points taken.

  6. It’s reported that Mendocino County has over 1 million illegal marijuana plants growing alone. Each plant requires over 6 gallons of water a day for 150 days. That’s over 6 million gallons of water every single day from our water sheds yet the BOS is spending their days promoting marijuana cultivation in hopes of generating tax dollars with zero concern for the water crisis and what that means for us, the wildlife, and future generations.


  7. Anna C. [EDITED] back off. Cool your jets. Who are you to criticize. Start your own website are start your own reporting and news outlet if you don’t like Matt’s style. Seriously. Stop reading if you can’t stand it. Why are you here? Jesus Christ you are pathetic. I swore I would never comment again on Mendofever two weeks because of immature over critical people like you that don’t know how to have a civil conversation. My comments now are not civil. I want to reach through my phone and choke you out. I can’t stand it. Again this is my last comment ever. But I have said that before. And yes Bradley Beck is my real name and I was born and raised and live in Redwood Valley. I have the balls to say who I am and where I live. Bring it.

  8. Anna C. You are a teacher? Unbelievable. Are you recommending the Ukiah Daily Journal? Or MendoVoice? Which alternative would you recommend? MendoFever is the best news source, except maybe the long established KZYX, in the last decade to come around Mendocino County. Do you teach your students this kind of critical judgment on a publication just trying to bring news and information to the public. I really don’t think Matt is trying to get rich off of Mendofever and is just trying to keep it afloat so he can continue on. You talk about other local news outfits, name them so I can become enlightened. Please. Enlighten me. And as for we don’t understand dam removal or actual numbers and cubic feet per second I spent my entire college career building a degree around water resources. I received my B.A. in 2006 in Geography from H.S.U. along with a APA planning certification in water resources, which is half of a Master’s Degree. 15 graduate level units. I don’t talk out the side of my neck. You need to sensor yourself before you ruin your teaching career. If my child was in you class I would kick in the counselors door to demand he switch classes. Luckily he goes to a school in another county. God. Unbelievable that you teach our youth.

  9. No problem Matt. I got a little worked up over this woman’s comments. See why I said I would never comment again. My blood pressure sky rockets over these commenters. So outlandish and so pathetic. Unintelligent and immature. I got out of control. But do not apologize.

      • 2 weeks ago I requested by email that you delete every comment I have ever made on Mendofever. I guess I’m glad now you didn’t. I’ve always considered myself a very private person. But I’m realizing now, obviously, I’m not. I can’t remain silent. Not on issues that affect me dearly. My Mother’s well is drying up. She has lived on the same property since 1971. And it’s because she is surrounded by growers that are sucking the aquifer dry. On top of Rd. B in Redwood Valley. Now because of my background I’m involved in the conflict whether I like it or not. But the commenter’s on this platform choose to act like my 15 year old son in a rage. But my recent comments have shone where he got it from. I apologize for my outrage. Keep up the good work Matt. I hope to meet you someday.

  10. Too many straws sucking out of the same cup. Wells are drying up, springs are trickling and the aquifers cannot keep up with the demand. It has become quite apparent that Mendocino county’s water supply is not sufficient in these prolonged years of drought .So now what?

    • No water from Lake, Mendocino or Humboldt Counties ends up in Southern California. But plenty of water from the rest of Northern California Counties does. In fact most of it does. The Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. You drive by the Edmund G. Pat Brown canal every time you drive down I-5. But it’s not the only canal. It’s a whole network of canals.

  11. Lake Mendocino is full this year 2023. If it rains in the winter Lake Mendocino fills up for the summer. If it doesn’t rain normally the lake is dry like last year. Lake Pillsbury doesn’t seem to make much difference.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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