Each year, California is confronting with serious drought-related issues, and state officials and residents alike have begun worrying about a possible water shortage that the state might be facing in the upcoming years.
There is an ongoing drought in California that started four years ago, and experts have so far failed to agree on how severe it is or when it will end. State leaders, in front with Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Senate President Kevin de León have announced an emergency $1 billion drought package aimed at relieving the stress communities affected by the drought have been dealing with.
“This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” the governor said. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.” Part of the $1 billion package is aimed at offering all Californians access to fresh water sources, while other funds are dedicated to help the state counter the effects of climate change.
According to Jay Famiglietti, UCI professor and senior NASA analyst, California has one years-worth of water reserves, and natural sources seem to be depleting. There have been some older local initiatives to fight water shortages along the state, such as Sacramento’s restrictions about doing hotel laundry only on request.
California is relying, however, on its tourism revenues, and the visitors have not been going easy on the water reserve. There are more than 65,000 bars and restaurants across the state, offering the annual 16 million tourists plenty of locations to eat and drink. Given that water is free to drink in Californian restaurants, nothing can stop a tourist from having ten glasses of water with his burger or spaghetti.
This year’s emergency drought package comes shortly after in 2014 Governor Brown allowed another $687 million to help California’s rural communities, most affected by the ongoing drought. Some of the funds helped workers and farmers have access to food and water sources, while others addressed the state’s mid-term plan to encourage communities to save water.
While many water-saving specialists argued that more radical measures are needed to be taken in order to help California preserve its water resources, most of them praised the governor’s second year commitment to fight the drought. Timothy Quinn from the Association of California Water Agencies believes “the package is a welcome step to accelerate relief to communities that are hardest hit.”
Water agencies in California have been leading the fight with radical programs to reduce average water use, and they say the support the state officials are showing them is encouraging. “They will continue to use every tool available to manage through the drought this year and improve our water supply reliability long term,” Quinn said about the agencies.
The water crisis in California is aggravating because the state has known a dramatic decrease in snow the past few winters. Except for the sporadic heavy rainstorms, there is no other natural water renewal process that can ease the effects of the drought. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, the most consistent source of water for Californians during the dry summer months, measured only 0.9 inches of water in the snow this March, registering near-record low values for this time of the year.
More statewide regulations have been voted on Tuesday, restricting the use of water for outdoor irrigation or washing down sidewalks. The sector mostly affected by the drought is agriculture, of course, where according to California Farm Bureau Federation president Paul Wenger “farmers face water cutbacks of 80 to 100 percent, and water shortages will force hundreds of thousands of acres of productive farmland to be idled.”
The state legislators’ measures are believed to be widely accepted among the residents of California, whose population has almost doubled during the last 40 years. Sustainable growth is an important topic for families and officials alike, and everyone seems to be working to conserve the state’s water resources.
Image Source: American Register
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