Katherine Jenkins’s photographs — taken along the California Aqueduct, which carries Sierra Nevada snowmelt southward via a network of dams, reservoirs, channels, and pumping plants, beginning in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta and ending in Lake Perris — depict what you might call scenes from the frontlines of the water wars. The reservoir of Lake Oroville, at a quarter of its capacity; the San Luis Reservoir at nineteen percent. A desiccated cornfield in the Delta. A pipe that’s run dry in abandoned farmlands near Lost Hills, west of Bakersfield, and a pomegranate orchard sprouting from the parched earth, also in Lost Hills. Pipe arrays climbing treeless slopes. A dry canal. In all these scenes we see a system that’s at once powerful, built to get water “to where it is needed,” and tenuous, as it runs up against non-negotiable limits.
Location: California, USA
Text: John Bass