The Drought is over …right?
Here is a story about Joe. Joe lost his job five years ago. He has a family of four and is the only earner. During the past five years, he’s been looking for a job with no success. He worked some temporary jobs here and there but nothing substantial. He relied on his savings. Joe drafted money from his saving accounts to pay for his groceries, for his utilities, and all his necessary household expenses. Of course, he cut back on his expenditures, but you have to have necessities.
Last month, Joe finally got a fantastic job! He’s flush with money. However, when he looks at his savings account, the joy goes away. He has no backup reserves, no safety net. He feels very insecure about his future finances. It will take years for him to save all that money to replenish his savings account. What happens if the stock market drops, a recession hits, and he’s laid off again? Then what?
Let us change Joe to California. Here is a story about California. California’s been in drought for five years. California has a population of nearly 40 million people. During the past five years, rain has been very sparse. Sure, there has been a shower here and there, but nothing substantial. California relied on its water savings or aquifers and reservoirs. It cut back on its water use. However, it needed water for crops to grow, and water for its citizens and businesses to conduct everyday life.
Orange County has received 13 inches of rain in a matter of weeks. It is flush with water. And the State’s reservoirs are filling quickly or overflowing. However, the drought took a toll on the State’s groundwater aquifers and depleted our savings. Throughout the state, we expended over 60 million-acre feet of water from our groundwater aquifers (savings accounts). It will take years (of average rain) to build up those reserves again. What if the rain doesn’t come again next year? Then what? Our water reserves are gone or nearly depleted.
Are California’s water problems a little more relatable now? Does it change your perspective? Are we still flush with water? Is the drought over?
It is a very simplified example of what California is facing. The reality is that it is much more complicated than the story above. Factor in changing weather patterns, the snowpack, and snowmelt, possible environmental disasters such as earthquakes or floods, the Delta levees failing, the Colorado River drought…it gets even more frightening. Are your eyes opening to California’s precarious water supply? They should be because some of these tough realities could forever change our lives.
Learn more at scwd.org.