Here are some facts and opinion to swallow with your next glass of water:

The Sierra Nevada region provides 60 percent of our state's usable fresh water. This region also accounts for 15 percent of California's energy production, according to the 2007 Sierra Business Council's "The State of the Sierra."

We provide a great deal of the water used by Central Valley farmers.

On May 1, the state Department of Water Resources reported its final snow survey indicating the California snow pack was 67 percent of normal.

However in our region, measurements indicated the Mokelumne, Stanislaus and Tuolumne river basins snow pack was at 52 percent of normal, and the Merced River Basin was at 56 percent of normal.

On June 4, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared California was in drought conditions. "For the areas in Northern California that supply most of our water, this March, April and May have been the driest ever in our recorded history. This drought is an urgent reminder of the immediate need to upgrade California's water infrastructure. There is no more time to waste because nothing is more vital to protect our economy, our environment and our quality of life," his statement declared.

On June 12, The Union Democrat reported the Calaveras County Water District, Tuolumne Utilities District and Groveland Community Services District requested customers to conserve this resource by watering lawns intermittently, and other conservation methods.

On June 19, The Union Democrat reported TUD officials "axed a volunteer lawn watering conservation plan because of a water supply that is in good condition."

Water may be plentiful in the Mother Lode, but water is desperately scarce throughout this state. Our state's leading economic driver is agriculture and farmers all around us have fields cracked from lack of water. Fuel prices are driving up the price of food, but lack of water will drive them even higher.

Let's move away from the mindset that we are isolated, we have plenty of water and let those around us fend for themselves.

We are all in this together. Conservation of water is something we should do whether or not it's a drought year. It's a habit worth adopting.

In his drought proclamation, the governor said, "Water is like our gold, and we have to treat it like that."

We, of all people, in the heart of Gold Rush country should heed those words every day.