Water Shortage Wreaking Havoc

A water shortage calls to mind images of panic. Water is essential to us and it is a terrifying prospect to think that one day. water might not come out of the tap. Currently California is immersed in a severe drought that is affecting individuals, cities, and farmers. 2013 was the driest year on record and 2014 has brought no relief. A high-pressure ridge over the Pacific Ocean has prevented rain from forming over the West Coast causing drought conditions. According to The Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service the drought will persist or intensify through April. That is an extended period of time to go without water, and the effects of this problem are beginning to become obvious.

The San Lorenzo River is at a low point, Photo From: tpgonlinedaily.com
The San Lorenzo River is at a low point,
Photo From: tpgonlinedaily.com

Reservoir levels are at all time lows, snow is scarce, and some communities have imposed restrictions on water usage. In Santa Cruz restaurants can no longer serve drinking water unless diners specifically ask for it and in Marin County residents have been asked not to clean their cars or to do so in an eco-friendly car wash (Forbes). There is no solution to the drought (except rain), but there are several things people can do to conserve water.

The Weather Channel suggests repairing all dripping faucets, retrofitting all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors, replacing showerheads with an ultra-low flow version, placing a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants, taking reduced showers, avoiding baths, and avoiding letting the water run while brushing your teeth or washing your face. In the San Lorenzo Valley, the water district has called for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in water use; it would be wise to heed their advice. It is a possibility that water rationing which includes restriction of water use, if one exceeds the water quota they will be fined, may take place if the situation becomes extreme, so it is important for everyone to do their part and conserve water (San Lorenzo Valley Water District). We tend to take water for granted and we do not realize how much water we use and how important it is to our day-to-day lives.

In the San Lorenzo Valley, the water district has called for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in water use; it would be wise to heed their advice.

Some students at SLV realize the vital role water plays in our lives and are doing their part to conserve water. Lately, I have been taking reduced showers (I am the type of person who likes to shower for 30 minutes) and not letting any water go to waste when I am cooking. McKenna Maness is also helping save our precious resource. “Because of the drought I can’t go backpacking in Big Sur since it is too dry there and the fire risk is high, so this has prompted me to reduce my water usage because I can see the impact of the drought.” McKenna can also see the effects of the drought on the local environment. McKenna’s monitoring project is sand hills Flora Recovery, and she sees that plants may not bloom in spring, as they should, due to the drought.

A California farm. Photo From: emilyandrob.wordpress.com
A California farm.
Photo From: emilyandrob.wordpress.com

Farming is California’s biggest industry and the largest consumer of water. Farming uses 80 percent of the water used by people and businesses (Department of Water Resources) and it is farming that is most impacted by this drought. Not only does California’s economy depend on the success of farms, but people all over the world eat food grown by California farmers. However, there is a solution to this dire situation, but many people oppose the solution because it involves Genetic Modification. According to Forbes “the technology is genetic engineering performed with modern molecular techniques, sometimes referred to as genetic modification (GM) or gene-splicing, which enables plant breeders to make old crop plants do spectacular new things, including conceiving water.” If the problem gets worse farmers might have to resort to such extreme methods as GM, to avoid this we all need to conserve water (and hope for rain).

Water rationing and being environmentally cautious is very difficult. However, this drought is so severe that all efforts must be taken to ensure that California does not dry up for good.

-Katrina Luque

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