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