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California facing 500-year drought, running out of drinking water

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PostedFebruary 5, 2014 by in International
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California facing 500-year drought, running out of drinking water

Folsom Lake, California (Associated Press)

Read this Jan. 30 story from the Huffington Post on the 500-year drought facing California today.

California is dry as a bone, and the effects are like something out of an apocalyptic film.

Cities are running out of water. Communities are fighting over what little water there is. Local governments are imposing rationing coupled with steep fines. Fires are ravaging the state. Entire species and industries are threatened.

For California, 2013 was the driest year since the state started measuring rainfall in 1849. Paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram says that, according to the width of old tree rings, California hasn’t been this dry for about 500 years.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared an emergency, President Barack Obama has pledged his support, and state and federal officials are steppingin to protect the state’s most vulnerable groups. Californians of various faiths have taken to holding prayer sessionslooking to the heavensfor rain. Here are some of the drought’s effects so far.

Seventeen rural communities in California are in danger of running out of water within 60 to 120 days, according to a list compiled by state officials. As the drought goes on, more communities are likely to be added to the list.

With only about seven inches of rain in California in 2013 — far below the average of 22 inches — wells are running dry and many reservoirs are about 30 percent full (including Folsom Lake, shown above).

The Sierra snowpack, where California gets about a third of its water, was 88 percent below average as of Jan. 30. Some are concerned thatthe diminished snowmelt is causing more pumping of contaminated groundwater, particularly in disadvantaged areas such as California’s San Joaquin Valley.

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Common Sense Canadian


8 Comments


  1.  
    David H

    Sadly, there will be another (simple, day to day) implication of drought conditions in California – and that’s a scarcity of fresh produce in Canada during the winter … or a big jump in prices … or both. As a society, we have become so accustomed to imported summer crops, and I am as guilty as everyone else.

    But I am old enough to remember growing up in eastern Canada many decades ago, when “fresh” fruit in the winter was a real luxury that couldn’t be afforded by everyone. A simple banana in January was like an extra gift from Santa.

    It’s so much like petro-based products, of course. They are habits (or addictions) that we can break, but … will we? Will our health-oriented culture really give up fresh lettuce, tomatoes and avocados from California, or will we just pay more for them? Will we stop driving, or just pay more for fuel?

    I wish I knew the answer(s).




    •  
      Chris B

      I have similar memories to those of David H. I remember being truly grateful for an orange, an apple or some grapes during the winters in central Alberta. I’m now in Whitehorse, Yukon and, curiously, I am surprised to find that the long days of summer sun here add much to the growing potential of vegetable gardens. This is a land of pristine watersheds which are now being threatened with huge potential for fracking and our governments are seemingly “all in favor”.

      Californian agriculture on the central high plains of the State has drawn out about 350 cubic Kilometers of unreplenishable fossil ground water. Sadly, it is to near depletion. Those central States lying over the great Ogallala Aquifer between Texas and the northern States as far east a the Great Lakes have lowered lowered that Aquifer in some areas as much as 500 to 800 feet making next to impossible to get.

      Global warming is a far greater issue than is generally being considered and “common sense” has long eluded us humans pretty much since the beginnings of civilization but the greatest examples of this shortcoming seems to be manifested here in North America and sadly this includes Canada.

      Mahatma Ghandi was once asked for his opinion of “western world civilization” and his answer was : “I think it would be a good idea.”




  2.  
    Bob

    Derek….

    I dig your rules. Unfortunately it’s all about money right? No end in sight when it comes to the grip it has on the globe. This speaks to where the tipping point will come (and it will imho) and how many will suffer the lack of wisdom displayed by the new kid on the block (humanity). We are toddlers with a penchant for destruction, not content to crap in our own sandbox we will, out of a misplaced sense of entitlement, crap in every sandbox on the block….with impunity.




  3.  
    Derek

    Hey, It’s a pretty simple set of common sense rules: Don’t build communities on flood plains, inundation zones, or arid desert zones just because you have the technology and hubris to get half way there. Don’t poison your water tables through fracking, don’t build your nuclear power plants on high risk earthquake zones. Don’t bring technology to the point that it turns a dollar and then goes no further. Lavish golf courses in a desert are just a stupid idea. Treating the planet as if you have another one to retire to will lead to disappointment and is an equally stupid notion. Shitting in your own nest, or anybody else’s for that matter will end up as an un-inhabitable home. If you have a system that produces vast quantities of poison as a bi-product, you’re obviously employing the wrong system……..Finally,, always remember that you can not eat your investment portfolio, no matter how many dividends you sprinkle on it.





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