California Is Drying Up

B. McPherson
The Golden State is facing its worst drought ever.
California is suffering from its worst drought in a century. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency. Over 80% of the Golden State is suffering from severe to exceptional drought. Even in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, lack of snow cover has ski resorts closed.

Wildfires in the state are expected to get worse as the vegetation becomes tinder.

California is the leading agricultural producer in the US. Farming is being squeezed due to lack of water. Beef cattle, normally out grazing have to be fed hay instead, at a much higher cost to the farmer. That is, when the farmer can afford to bring in hay from out of state. Lack of water in the irrigation ponds means little water for the animals to drink. Many ranchers are sending their stock to slaughter early and at a loss.
Dairy farmers are faced with low milk prices and higher forage prices.

Much of the fresh vegetables that we enjoy in the Canadian supermarkets come from the rich agricultural lands. The drought is so severe that irrigation water may not be available this growing season and large tracts may be left fallow.

"Annual crops like melons and vegetables may not get planted," Ross said, adding that if that happens, local produce will be at a premium. "Yolo and San Luis Obispo counties (important agricultural producers) are also running very dry." San Francisco Gate

Wine producers in the Sonoma Valley are watching the situation carefully.

One of the reasons that people flock to California to live is because of its many sunny days. According to the US Census figures, the population of that state is now over 38 million. To put that in perspective, the population of the whole of Canada, the second largest country by area is about 35 million. The pressure on the natural resources, especially drinking water is great and getting worse. Gov Brown has urged a 20% drop in individual water consumption.

Lake Folsom, an important water source, is currently only 17% of capacity. A town, abandoned over a hundred years ago, has resurfaced. In the south, the mighty Colorado River is reduced to a trickle.

Further Reading: NY Times 

Drought has brought many civilizations to their knees.

No water, no life


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