California Drought – The Looming Water Problem

    January 1, 2014

California has seen its share of drought, anyone who is a long-time resident can attest to water rationing and restrictions – and it appears it might be dealing with water shortages again in 2014.

Although winter is a strange time of year to announce a drought – with three-fourths of the country under ice and snow, but California has not had its usual rain or snowfall. A city like Santa Cruz usually gets at least 30 inches of rain every year, but this year – only about five inches fell – from July to June.

As of December 24th, 85 percent of the state was experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions. Reservoirs are at below normal levels, and people are starting to worry.

On Dec. 17, Governor Jerry Brown set up a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and the state’s level of preparedness – drought is being felt in 94.25 percent of California, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Drought is extremely hard on its inhabitants – human and animal alike – and it is really hard on one of the biggest agricultural growers in the country. Half of the fruits, vegetables and nut crops eaten in the U.S. come from California.

Experts are hoping for an extremely wet winter and spring to try to dissuade the drought from getting any worse.

For farmers and growers who depend on the land to make a living, this drought is especially challenging. Wells have dried up, and farmers are importing water for their crops and cattle.

And that isn’t the worst of it – although it’s bad – but California actually has a “fire” season. California is partially desert, and with that warm climate, things dry out quickly.

Last summer’s Rim Fire was the biggest on record in the Sierra Nevada’s and the third largest in California’s history, burning 257,314 acres of land. Drought is a huge fire risk to the mountains and residents of California.

With the National Weather Service predicting a continued drought in California into the early spring, things aren’t looking good.

Image via Wikimedia Commons