Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

California’s Drought: Causes and Effects

Data has been collected about the state of water use in the United States for years. Starting from January 2000, the United States Drought Monitor has made this data available to the public.

As the data is looked through, especially from year to year, it’s easy to see which areas were struggling and which were thriving.

When it comes to California, signs of coming trouble began to show in 2007.

By 2012, the drought was consistent. As of this writing, California is shown to be in what the Monitor considers an “exceptional drought.”

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Expanding on this is a report from the National Public Radio Newscaster Nathan Rott. He states, “the state is short more than a year’s worth of water in its reservoirs and that the state’s topsoil reserves are nearly depleted.”

This is a dangerous situation for all residents of the state. The threat of a lack of clean drinking water being available to the average citizen is very real.

As the population of California has grown, the demand for clean water has risen. It’s important to remember that clean water in the United States isn’t just for drinking. It is used in the plumbing systems of homes for toilets and sinks.

Many places have begun using recycled water to water gardens, lawns, and other plant life, Rio Hondo College included.

This water is taken from the drainage systems of sinks and toilets for reuse. Car washes, food production warehouses, as well as various other businesses have a great demand for clean water.

For several decades, California has been borrowing their water supply from outside sources. However, there has been an effort by several cities to reduce their importation of water from sources like the Colorado River or the San Francisco Bay Delta.

In an article from the National Geographic’s Sandra Postel, it is revealed that at least five cities are actively making changes to their water supply.

Most notably, Postel explains, is Santa Monica where the city plans to reduce their imported water to zero by the year 2020. Their plan includes tapping into a local underground water supply that will consist of “72 percent of its future supply needs, along with a mix of recycling, stormwater capture, and rainwater harvesting for the other 28 percent.”

To raise awareness of the seriousness of the drought here and across the world, actor Matt Damon took part in the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Only, he put a twist on what seems like a straight-forward idea. Instead of using the clean water from sinks in his home, he instead spent his day gathering water from his toilets.

He then added ice to the buckets and stepped out onto his backyard lawn to complete the challenge after a brief explanation. He created an organization called Water.Org to help people in less developed countries have cleaner water to drink and use in their daily lives. Other people have taken this challenge and subtracted the water from it as well.

Most famously, Charlie Sheen dumped $10,000 in cash on his head instead of water.

In the end, it’s the responsibility of every citizen to reduce their water use as an effort to keep water from becoming more scarce than it already is.

There are simple ways to do this. For instance, taking “boat style” showers where a quick rinse starts and finishes the shower while the water stays off during shampooing and lathering with soap.

You can also turn off the water while you scrub your hands with soap or brush your teeth. Fill sinks half way with the plug engaged while shaving to conserve more water as well. There are more extreme ways to conserve but these are good starting points.

Hopefully, if enough people make small changes like these and more, California will begin to recover thanks to everyone’s collective efforts.


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