Over the last months, we Californians have experienced both historic drought and historic rainfall. The world as we knew it really is ending faster than some of us ever expected.
To make sure they can deliver enough water to California’s farms and cities going forward, water managers are focusing on shoring up local supplies.
But not everyone agrees on the best way to do that.
The consequences of climate change and ill-advised development are starting to bite and bite hard in the American West.
Three years in a row feels like – well, it starts to feel like the new, and impossible, normal. That’s what the local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, implied this morning when, in the middle of its account of the inferno, it included the following sentence: the fires had “intensified fears that parts of California had become almost too dangerous to inhabit”.
Jeremy Miller talks about the impact of the flooding in Northern California, shares ideas from experts on how to re-charge the state’s stressed groundwater reserves, and posits that California needs a more sustainable model for fresh water that is less dependent on the snow pack in the Sierra Mountains.
While the media focuses on larger-scale challenges, small-scale, implementable solutions seem absent from the discussion. Small-scale solutions are beautiful because they often address both drought and flood problems. With one of the strongest El Niños on record developing in the Pacific, California may see a massive deluge this winter. It could be damaging if we don’t prepare now. On the heels of a multi-year drought, flash floods and the inundation of dry, crusty soils will be especially damaging.
California in the Great Drought is once again Exhibit A, a living diorama of how the future is going to look for a lot of us.
The record-breaking drought in California is not chiefly the result of low precipitation. Three factors – rising temperatures, groundwater depletion, and a shrinking Colorado River – mean the most populous U.S. state will face decades of water shortages and must adapt.
An inverted totalitarian position is in direct opposition to the ecological principles that have, in previous years, been part and parcel of the very fabric of California.
Toxic pollutants such as paint cans, plastic, and pesticides become extra potent when there is little water to dilute them.
Last week, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order requiring urban centers to reduce their water consumption by 25%.
Some will say it’s too difficult to up-end long-held water habits, practices and entitlements. But those difficulties are certain to pale next to those wrought by empty reservoirs and dry wells.