August 22, 2014

“How serious is California drought? Check out these before & after pictures, taken only 3 years apart.”

“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.” – John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Meanwhile: California couple conserving water amid drought could face fine for brown lawn (reuters.com)

And meanwhile, California still waters its lawns. “This recent article really puts this into perspective, Palm Springs uses 736 gallons a day per person, LA uses 152. Sacramento uses 279, SF uses 98.”

Bonus: West Texas:

Via Reddit, Imgur: “Since some people are pointing out that the pictures were taken at different times of year, hereis a graph of Lake Oroville showing the water level (in ft. above sea level) since the beginning of 2011. It shows that even at the lowest parts of 2011, the level was still more than 30 feet ~9m above its highest level of 2014. This data comes from the California Department of Water Resources.”

“For those wondering why they should care: the effects of the current prolonged drought include a increased losses for agricultural industries (at $2.2B USD right now), forecasting an increase in food prices for consumers across the united states by 6%; loss of jobs due to crop losses, which in the lesser 2009 drought cost 6,000 jobs; and increased wildfires, which burn down houses, causing hundreds of people to lose their homes, costing millions of dollars, as well as releasing millions of tons of CO2 (source is from 2007, but numbers still relevant). For reference, in 2011 California released 345 m metric tons of of CO2.”

Half the water used in Los Angeles county is used on lawns.”

“On an individual basis, start cutting down on water usage. Here are suggestions from the EPA. Immediately, you can fix leaks, cut down on water fertilizer and pesticide usage (contaminates existing water sources and exacerbates drought for critical ecosystems), stop over-watering, etc. Long term, look towards swapping out plants for drought-resistant native plants. When you replace old appliances with water saving ones. Toilets alone are “nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption”.

On a policymaking level, implement scaling fines for repeat offenders. Right now they’re $500 a day. Change it to start lower, but ramp up quickly and make it dependent on how much water is wasted. Flat usage decreases currently in place punish those already conserving and incentivize those in other statesto start ramping up water usage (if you have to decrease 15% from last year, why not increase water usage now so you can use more when your state passes decreases?). Decrease water allocation (this is the probably the hardest one) to certain water-heavy crops – almond farming alone takes up 10% of total state consumption. Many ecosystems are at risk, especially since drought conditions increase the possibility of invasive species establishing a permanent presence. We should be evaluating water usage in these regions (like the San Joaquin river delta, coincidentally one of the largest agricultural regions) and placing heavier fines and restrictions in these regions.

In addition, there are indications that climate change has contributed to the crisis. While it would be very irresponsible to make a definitive statement, there are some clues. The chances of a strong El Nino, which would have greatly relieved conditions in California, are slipping and it’s probably because of changing weather patterns (not climate change directly, but very certainly influenced by).”

How serious is California drought? Check out these before and after pictures, taken only three years apart.

Before: Here, the Green Bridge passes over Lake Oroville near the Bidwell Marina in 2011. Notice the trees and shrubs that grow right against the man-made lake’s edge
After: Fast forward to 2014 and even the massive pillars holding up the bridge can be completely seen at the lakes edge, where a wide swath of parched dirt spans between what’s left of the water and the tree line
Before: The marina at Oroville Lake, here in 2011, is the picture of serenity. Recent serious storms in Northern and Southern California have helped give the state a very small reprieve during the 3-year drought, but the effects have been described as a ‘drop in the bucket’
After: Much of what was once an engorged reservoir is now gone at Oroville. Shockingly, only a handful of Central Coast dams have fallen below the historically low 1977 levels
Before: Here, the Enterprise Bridge spans the Lake Oroville in Butte County, California in July 2011.
After: Here, the Enterprise Bridge spans the same reservoir, which has dwindled to a mere trickle in 2014 as California is forced to draw alarming amounts of water from its vanishing reservoirs
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