01 April 2015

California Drought Preparation: State Passes First Water Restrictions in History

For the first time ever, California State Government has passed a water restriction state-wide. Looks to be a 25% reduction, though news I have read so far are vague as to what sectors will have the 25% cut. Certainly, California will have to think about the farming production, as this consumes the majority of water in the state. This is a fascinating turn of events, government taking climate change seriously, though no mention of the term in the language of the quoted officials. The Governor, Jerry Brown, stated that "This is the new normal, we will learn how to cope with it."

California grows a huge percentage of the United States crops, fruits and vegetables, rice, almonds, even cotton. I believe much of this is also for export. It is the top producer of diary (no Wisconsin cannot claim this), and the climate can be quite dry in many places. Large water projects canal and pipe water into water thirsty areas for agricultural use, particularly in the Central Valley. Driving through the area you see wasteful (cheap) methods for irrigation that cause upwards of 50% water loss. No doubt these changes will impact national food prices as time goes on. California is the 8th biggest economy in the world - the world, not the country - in other words, California's GDP is higher than about 200 countries. It is a big state, and a powerful state, but without water, what makes it powerful, what draws people to live there, will change completely.

Houseboats are dwarfed by the steep banks of Lake Don Pedro in La Grange, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water restrictions on Wednesday to deal with the drought.CreditJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

California’s Extreme Drought, Explained

PHILLIPS, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water restrictions for the first time in California history on Wednesday, saying that the state’s drought had reached near-crisis proportions after a winter that brought record-low snowfalls.
Governor Brown, in an executive order, directed the State Water Resources Control Board to work with local agencies to come up with ways to reduce water use by 25 percent and to enforce what he described as an onerous reduction in use. State officials said the order would impose cutbacks on water use across the board — including homeowners, farmers, cemeteries and golf courses.
State officials said they were prepared to enforce punitive measures — including fines — to assure compliance with the new standards, but said they were hopeful this would not be necessary
Governor Brown made the announcement while attending the annual April 1 measuring of the snowpack here in the Sierras, a critical source of water through the summer.
On typical years, the measurement in Phillips is around five or six feet. But Mr. Brown found himself standing on an utterly dry field after state water officials went through the motions of measuring snow,
“This is the new normal,” Governor Brown said. “We will learn how to cope with this.”
The 25 percent cut is in relation to total water use in the state in 2013, before the drought began. It would vary from community to community reflecting the fact that some areas of the state have done a better job in reducing water consumption.

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