Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Empowering High Schoolers to Save Lives

Sometimes, we expect too little from the youth in our community. Amidst the schoolwork, hanging out with friends, listening to music and going to football games, it can seem like they’re busy, distracted or just otherwise disengaged. But the truth is the next generation is capable of so much more, and we should expect it. Our lives may depend on it.

Shawn Sanchez would agree with me. It was not by superhuman effort or miraculous fortune that Sanchez was able to save the life of his 9-month-old daughter, but by simple preparedness. One day he decided to take a CPR course not knowing he would ever need it…then something happened.
Sanchez said his wife was preparing to take their daughter to the doctor while he was getting ready for work, and Kinley, fighting bronchitis, seemed to be struggling for breath. He recalled quickly deciding they would go to the emergency room, and before the family was in the car, Kinley took an alarming turn for the worse… she stopped breathing.

“I ran over, just put her on the ground and started doing CPR, and I gave my wife my phone to call 911 while I was doing CPR,” Sanchez said.

He guessed it was something like three minutes before his daughter revived with a whimper, and they raced to the closest emergency clinic they could think of, which gave the child oxygen until an ambulance arrived.

Today, Sanchez hopes more parents and even his daughter - when she gets older - take the same feasible precautions and sign up for a CPR class.

Our lawmakers have a bill before them that could create a generation of lifesavers in Assembly Bill 319 (Rodriguez) by requiring hands-on CPR training before high school graduation.

The American Red Cross along with the American Heart Association sponsor this bill. We believe it is time our community became CPR Smart and built CPR training into the high school curriculum. If we equip more high schoolers with the lifesaving power of CPR, we will hear more stories like Shawn’s, and not the tragic stories of those who died of cardiac arrest because CPR was administered too late.

Are there enough lifesavers in our community to make sure CPR is delivered in time? Today, I’m afraid the answer is no. But if we trained every high school student in CPR, we’d be adding thousands of lifesavers to the community.

So what do you believe high schoolers are capable of? Good grades? A winning game? A fun band concert or theater production? We believe they are capable of saving a life. Already, high schoolers have saved hundreds of lives around the country, and I think they could save thousands more if only given the training.

The solution is in our hands, by asking the state legislature and Governor Brown to bring CPR training to our high schools. The hands that may or may not save your life belong to the students in a high school near you.

Lilly Wyatt
American Red Cross
Gold Country Region

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Support the Energy Action Plan Today!

Tuesday, May 26, at 10:30 a.m., the Amador County Board of Supervisors will be deciding whether or not to accept the Amador County Energy Action Plan (EAP), prepared by the Sierra Business Council (SBC). The EAP currently has the recommendation of the Amador County Planning Commission.

The EAP can be found at:

Please consider attending to voice your support for the EAP. The EAP is good for Amador County because:

1. The EAP's focus on energy reduction and renewable energy is beneficial from both a fiscal and environmental standpoint; reducing energy reduces impact on the County's budget as well as dependency on energy from finite resources.
2. The EAP was prepared at no cost to the County, and provides strategies to help the County keep and generate more dollars within the community (ie. The focus on renewable energy opens up the possibility for job creation).
3. This document can help Amador County be a leader and an example for other rural jurisdictions in the Sierra Nevada who may not realize the potential for cost and energy savings in their communities.

If you cannot attend the meeting, please send a letter or email supporting the EAP before Tuesday to the board clerk,, and Chuck Beatty, Planner III, at  Please CC SBC's Program Director, Nick Martin at

Thank you.

Cecily Smith
Executive Director
Foothill Conservancy
35 Court Street, Suite 1
Jackson, California  95642

Monday, May 18, 2015

Top four myths of the California drought – from the Northern California Water Association

One of the unfortunate byproducts of the current drought are the myths circulating regarding water use and the means for addressing the water crisis in the state.  Some are perpetuations of myths developed during past water crises.  Others build upon misinformation that has a more recent origin.  Below are four myths that you may see in media accounts of the drought.
1) Agriculture uses 80 percent of water in the state.

According to the 2013 California Water Plan, in an average water year, agriculture uses 41 percent of the applied water in California (California Water Plan 2013, Volume 1, page 3-35).  Urban water uses total 10 percent and various environmental uses total 49 percent of applied water in the state.

But, if we are truly talking about the “water in the state,” according to the Water Plan, “California, in an average water year…receives about 200 maf [million acre-feet] of water from precipitation and imports from Colorado, Oregon, and Mexico.”  Agricultural water use totals 32.9 million acre-feet in an average year, or 16.5 percent of water received in the state (California Water Plan 2013, Volume 1, page 3-31 and 3-32).

2) Unlike urban water users who have just received a mandatory 25% reduction in water use, agricultural water users have not had their water supplies cut.
Last year, while those of us living in urban areas were tasked with voluntarily reducing water use, agricultural water users were suffering devastating cutbacks in supplies, many receiving no water or up to 5 percent of their contracted amounts.  This year, even the most senior agricultural water rights holders in the state will be cut back at least 25 percent.  Most will be cut back much more than that, if they get any water at all.  According to the California Farm Water Coalition, this will result in 30 percent of the irrigated farmland in the state receiving no surface water and approximately 620,000 acres (which equals almost 970 square miles) of fallowed land this year. These cutbacks will not only impact agricultural lands, but also the terrestrial habitat lands (such as wildlife refuges and managed wetlands) that are supplied water by the agricultural water agencies.

3) The water rights in the state are over-appropriated.
Over the past several years, there have been claims that California’s water system is overappropriated by five times and is therefore somehow broken. This statement mischaracterizes the California water rights system and ignores the fundamental and sophisticated way water is managed in the state.
Those claiming that the water rights are overappropriated have taken all of the water rights maintained by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), added them up, and declared that the state’s water rights total more than the available water and thus the state is overappropriated.  What this ignores are the considerable non-consumptive water rights, the substantial water reuse and recoverable losses in the state’s water system and the restrictions on water rights.  The overappropriation myth is debunked in more detail in the following blog: Using Water Multiple Times in California Explaining the California Water Rights Over-Appropriation Myth.
For more information on California’s water rights system, visit the State Water Resources Control Board website at: FAQS: Water Rights.

4) New surface water storage would not help during a drought year.
As an example of how additional surface storage would help during a drought year, the Department of Water Resources has analyzed that if Sites offstream reservoir was in place in 2015, it would have stored an additional 410,000 acre-feet of water this very dry water year. The water that would have filled Sites reservoir is largely from the December 2014 and the February 2015 storms.  Importantly, if Sites reservoir was in operation today, total north of Delta storage this year would have increased by 900,000 acre-feet, including an additional 280,000 acre-feet in Shasta reservoir.  This additional water could be used for multiple purposes: fish, farms, birds, cities, recreation and to help maintain salinity levels in the Delta.

For more information from the Department of Water Resources on the benefits Sites reservoir would provide this year, visit: FAQS: The Drought and Sites Reservoir.