This story includes details on the impacts of climate change that may be difficult for some readers. If you are feeling overwhelmed by this crisis situation here is a list of resources on how to cope with fears and feelings about the scope and pace of the climate crisis.
A two-year drought is forcing California to “dramatically curtail water delivery next year” to 27 million of the state’s residents and 750,000 acres/300,000 hectares of farmland, Bloomberg reports.
Water from the 700-mile/1,127-kilometre State Water Project, which supplies farms, homes, cities, towns, and industrial customers across two-thirds of California’s length, will be prioritized “only for health and safety needs, to maintain salinity control in key wetlands, to protect endangered species, and to put water in reserve,” the news agency writes. “That means farmers won’t get any water from the system they had applied for unless conditions improve.”
California is the biggest agriculture producer in the U.S., with US$49 billion in sales last year. It draws 75% of its water from rain and snow in the mountainous north, and about 80% of the demand is in the southern two-thirds of the state, Bloomberg says, citing the California Department of Water Resources.
But California’s two water systems, one private and the other state-owned, have had to limit deliveries because of the persistent drought. In August, the hydroelectric plant at Lake Oroville went offline for the first time since it went into service in 1967, due to low water levels in California’s second-biggest reservoir.
Now, “despite a wet start to the water year, conditions have dried out since that first storm and we are still planning for a below-average water year,” said water resources department director Karla Nemeth. “That means we need to prepare now for a dry winter and severe drought conditions to continue through 2022.”