California Water Crisis: How Our Food May Dry Up

California Water Crisis: How Our Food May Dry Up


It’s no secret that California is in a state of emergency with its water crisis. As precipitation continues to steadily decline, California has become more and more reliant on imported water and water from the Colorado River.

First, one must ask themselves, why are we in this drought? What’s causing it? The answer many environmentalists immediately flock to is global warming and that we are responsible for the drought and lack of water in most cases. However convincing this argument may be, the answer is not so black and white. 

During the winters on the west coast, for the past decade, we have been experiencing drastically high pressures off the west coast that divert any sort of precipitation away from California and into British Columbia and northern Washington State. For years, California has been reliant on the snowmelt of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range as a primary source of water. In recent years, the level of snowpack in the mountain range has declined exponentially with the exception of anomaly years such as the past winter of 2015-2016 which brought El Nino storms.

These storms brought a significant amount of snowpack and precipitation to reservoirs such as Lake Shasta and the Owens Lake. However, California will need multiple storms of that proportion in order to dig ourselves out of the severe drought, for which the odds are extremely unlikely.

Are Californians taking too long of showers? Do we flush the toilets too much? Short answer, no. Urban water use accounts for roughly 12% of the water use in California according to statistics by the State of California.

Conserving water in all aspects is by most standards considered a good thing, and obviously, we should shorten our showers and flush our toilets less. Our actions, though admirable, do not really make that large of a difference in the grand scheme of things due to the majority of water being used to support agriculture and the environment.

Agriculture absorbs a vast amount of water in the State of California, which, complimentarily, is the main source of income in the state economy. One can piece together how the drought may cause economic instability within the state.

However, the state realizes this and subsidized water has been given to aid the agricultural communities and leads them in continuing to prosper. Despite this being seemingly just, this allows government to further their corrupt agenda by picking and choosing the farms that receive subsidies and primarily giving them to the large corporate-run farms. Additionally, this gives the state government power to enforce environmental policies on the farms because they, in some cases, choose to restrict subsidies to the farms that do not adhere with the EPA’s set of impractical rules.

Problems with the current state of water generation are the abhorrent over-mining of aquifers. Due to the snowmelt being increasingly scarce, companies have turned to mining for the water in underground reservoirs. Aquifers are a great way to obtain water, but only when water is able to regenerate and replenish the water lost by mining.

When over mining occurs, the ground becomes brittle and thus, sinkholes and landslides, depending on elevation, can occur. An additional problem, posing as a solution, is desalination plants. Desalination, in theory, is a great idea, utilization of the ocean’s natural water to create potable water would be a pragmatic solution if it was more efficient and provided more water at a cheaper cost.

In Huntington Beach, California, a desalination plant is being instituted and set to launch in 2019. This plant would provide water for roughly 50,000 people per day. A multi-million dollar project is barely able to provide enough water for a quarter of the cities population of roughly 200,000 residents. In theory, that is the most practical way to obtain water in the future, but it needs to become more energy efficient and create a higher yield of water. 

What is perhaps most appalling is the sheer lack of a practical rain reservoir system for capturing runoff water during the rainy days. The state of California must divert funds away from the failed high-speed rail system and fund a reservoir system. In theory, the El Nino and Pacific Decadal Oscillation should deliver rains that will aid in returning the state to one of prosperity rather than drought and high water rates. California must be ready for when the rains hit, and when they do, we need to have a practical system to collect like crazy. 

Lastly, the State needs to find a way to make water generator systems on a larger scale and make them more cost-effective. Water generators utilize electricity to create condensation within the generator and create water virtually out of thin air. An Atmospheric Water Generation unit will run you roughly 30,000 dollars and is able to provide up to 450 gallons of water per day. If research was put into this to make it on a grander scale, we may just see a solution to our water crisis.

The number one priority is finding a way to dig ourselves out of the drought and provide enough water for all ventures of the state. As it stands, California is the number one producer of agriculture and if we do not find a way to institute practical water policies, our food will dry up and both California and our whole country will suffer for it.

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