Water has been on our minds this winter here in Northern California. One of the wettest winters on record has our reservoirs full to capacity. Just south of our headquarters in Chico, California the town of Oroville has been dealing with a damaged dam spillway, the result of a collision of changing weather patterns and aging water management infrastructure. This occurrence so close to home has us looking at the waterways in our own community and the roles they play in our daily lives and as they flow out into the wider world of water management issues and challenges.
A quick bike ride away from our Chico, California headquarters, Big Chico Creek drops out of the Northern Sierra Nevada foothills. Swollen with water from a winter of heavy rain and mountain snows, our local creek is the centerpiece of a relatively healthy watershed. From its headwaters high on 6,000 foot Colby mountain, the creek cuts a circuitous course down through the foothills. Clear turquoise pools are emptied by rumbling cataracts, their power amplified by the tight canyon walls and rugged terrain that characterize the upper reaches of this creek. Spring-run Chinook salmon navigate the clear waters as they have for centuries, and the Eastern Tehama Blacktail Deer herd seeks winter refuge in the upper watershed.
As our local creek empties out of the sparsely populated foothills and into the northern Sacramento Valley it encounters more and more human input. Agricultural runoff, habitat encroachment, and other byproducts of human / wild land convergence threaten water quality and health of native flora and fauna. Forty-five miles from its source, Big Chico Creek reaches it's confluence with the mighty Sacramento River. It is here that its waters join a larger, more complicated world of water quality and management concerns stretching all the way to the Sacramento River Delta, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean beyond.
On this World Water Day we use our local creek as a vehicle to step out of our community and look at bigger issues surrounding clean water. All life thrives on access to reliable, clean water – it is an essential ingredient to quench thirst, cleanse the body, sustain health, and satisfy the soul. At Klean, we also believe access to clean water is a fundamental human right. Clean drinking water starts with healthy streams, rivers, and groundwater, so we work with organizations like American Rivers and the American Sustainable Business Council to address issues that impair our country’s source waters. We invite you to to get involved in the fight for clean water in both your local community and around the globe. Visit American Rivers HERE to learn about some ways to take action.
Nearly 200 miles southwest of our Chico headquarters an out-going tide flows through the Golden Gate with a river's force into the open Pacific Ocean. Somewhere in that flow is a tiny part of our Big Chico Creek. A view from high above would reveal diverse and intertwined watersheds with braided river and stream courses overlapping, merging and ultimately feeding into vast oceans, a view not unlike a natural map of global clean water issues.
We want to hear about your local watershed. Show us your creeks, rivers, lakes and beaches. Tell us what you are doing to help fight for clean water locally and globally. Share your ideas with us on Instagram using #BringYourOwn