California has often suffered water scarcity throughout its history and has experienced many droughts, such as 1841, 1864, 1924, 1928–1935, 1947–1950, 1959–1960, 1976–1977, 2006–2010, and 2012–2017. Each drought brought a new challenge to California. Being the most populous state and a major agriculture producer in the United States, California has been facing a threat to its economic development and environmental sustainability for a long time. Let’s have some lesser known facts about the California Drought:
1. Almost 100% Area Of California Is Affected
In 2014, the drought almost encompassed over 98% of California.
Source: nbcnews.com, Image: Wikimedia
2. Limited Water Supply
California suffers from a limited water supply, which comes mainly from surface water and groundwater.
Source: Introduction to Water in California by Carle, David, Image: Wikimedia
3. World’s Most Controversial Water System
The interconnected water system of California manages over 40 million acre-feet (49 km3) of water per year; making it the world’s largest water system, and also, the world’s most controversial water system.
Source: The great thirst: Californians and water by Norris Hundley, Image: Wikimedia
4. Dry Rainy Seasons
Precipitation in California is limited. California witnesses most of the rain snowfall in the winter months. A dry rainy season often has lasting consequences.
Source: climate.gov, Image: pxhere.com
5. Lack Of New Reservoirs
Since the construction of the New Melones Dam of 1979, California has built almost no major northern or central mountain reservoirs. Lack of new reservoirs has lasting consequences; as California has almost doubled in population since 1979.
Source: nationalreview.com, Image: Wikimedia
6. Large Volumes Of Water Are Lost
Much of California’s water network is operated through a system of pumps to supply water from north to south; mostly through the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. In the process, large volumes of water are often lost to the Pacific Ocean; because of winter storms.
Source: Wikipedia, Image: Flickr
7. Reservoirs Are Reserved For Flood Control
Despite lacking in the construction of new reservoirs, the existing ones are reserved mostly to control floods; leading to water-scarcity in Southern California.
Source: auburndamcouncil.org, Image: jpl.nasa.gov
8. Challenging Wet & Dry Years
California has one of the most unpredictable climates of any U.S. state. Wet years followed by extremely dry ones is a common feature of California’s climate. The state’s reservoirs fail to balance the water supply between wet and dry years.
Source: huffingtonpost.in, GIF: assets.rbl.ms
9. Human-Induced Global Warming
Various environmentalists have found that apart from a long-term change in precipitation, human-induced global warming is one of the biggest reasons behind the California Droughts; human-induced global warming accounted for 8–27% of the observed drought anomaly in 2012–2014.
Source: cpo.noaa.gov, GIF: climate.nasa.gov
10. Worst Drought
Reportedly, the 2012–2014 drought in California was the most intense in at least 1,200 years. It’s considered the worst drought in California’s history.
Source: theguardian.com, GIF: Wikimedia
11. The Wettest Recorded Winter Ever
Although a notorious state for being a dry state, California recorded its wettest winter in 2016-17; surpassing the previous record set in 1982–83.
Source: latimes.com, GIF: data.whicdn.com
12. Restrictions On Water Use
Being a dry state, the local authorities in most of the cities of California have applied several restrictions over the use of water including residential lawn removal, limit lawn sprinkling to three days a week, and ban hosing down driveways and sidewalks.
Source: latimes.com, GIF: s1.kaercher-media.com
13. Incentives For Water Conservation
Apart from restriction, the authorities have expanded their conservation incentives to include rebates for the installation of rain barrels and soil moisture sensors.
Source: latimes.com, Image: Flickr
14. And There Would Be No Water In California
According to various studies, if California goes on without changes in water use, it would take only six dry years to make California and absolute dry state in the United States.
Source: latimes.com, Image: Pixabay
15. This Dry Fruit Is Making California A Dry State…
Well! It has been found that dry fruit, Almond, is notoriously one of the biggest water consumers among the other crops in California. Reportedly, almonds extravagantly consume 10% of California’s agricultural water supply.
Source: takepart.com, Image: Flickr
16. Holy Cow! Not So Holy When It Comes To Water
Some reports have quoted that elephant in the room when it comes to water-hogging food is a cow. The crop that consumes the most water in California is alfalfa, which is largely grown as feed for cattle and dairy cows.
Source: takepart.com, GIF: tenor.co
17. California Would Permanently Lose Its Groundwater
If California doesn’t devise any strategic checks, groundwater pumping and aquifer depletion will lead to land sinking and permanent loss of groundwater storage.
Source: Wikipedia, Video: vimeo.com