Big drought causes big problems; California fights record water shortage

October 23, 2014 6:00 pm92 comments

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons – docentjoyce

While California is known for its heat, a more serious weather phenomenon has taken over life in the golden state. California is currently the epicenter of one of the worst droughts since records began.

Stretching across the west coast of the United States, and reaching into the Rocky Mountain States, the current drought is just part of a longer drought cycle going back to 2013. Though it covers a vast expanse of the country, California is currently the center of this water-depriving weather system. From front lawns to the corner grocer, the drought has had a great impact on everyday life.

As summer came to a close, the drought had no end in sight. The United States Drought Monitor classified over 58% of California as being at the highest level of drought intensity.

Under normal conditions, the combined water resources of California support over 38 million people, which is over three times the population of Pennsylvania.  On top of supporting the state’s residents, these water sources also supports an estimated 9 million acres of farmland. Without any sign of imminent relief for the people of California, the situation could not be more serious.

At one point, there were 7 active wildfires in California. Every year, wildfires destroy hundreds of acres of forests and create tens of millions of dollars in damage. One of the most important resources used in fighting these fires is, of course, water. Thus, the already strained water system across the state took on an even heavier burden.

Worse, the drought that leads to the disappearance of water is the very same force that helps create the large numbers of wildfires experienced across the west coast of the United States between spring and fall every year.

Economically, these wildfires have cost the state and citizens of California a great deal. A recent UC Davis report on the agricultural impact of the drought found that it will be responsible for a loss of $2.2 billion in agricultural goods, including crops, livestock, and the cost of pumping in more water to replace that which has been lost. This will almost certainly lead the loss of thousands of jobs and a spike in the cost of living.

Already, the impact of this drought can be felt here in Glenside. California is the nation’s leading supplier of produce and the effects of the drought on harvests have led to an overall increase in their price.

Want to have a refreshing salad? You may want to bring some extra change, as the cost of lettuce has gone up as well. Large numbers of other agricultural products are grown in California, and the lack of water to make those products will lead to an increase in their price is well.

From raging forest fires, to a jump in the prices of produce, the drought in California has had an impact on life across the country. With no end in sight, it is clear the impact of this weather pattern will be felt for many more months to come.


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