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California Drought in 2014 Essay

Water is a life resource for everyone. A situation between a drought and our resources being in danger with shortages of water in the region, is something that should not be trifled with. The state of California plunged into its third year of being affected by a record breaking drought. (Global Risk Insight) The Sacramento region was in desperate need of water this winter, with the high record of 52 winter days without rain (Sacramento Bee: Weather Report). Generally, the average time for rainfall encloses the time from late November to Mid April; and the months of the most rainfall occurs December through February.(Department of Water Resources) As parts of the country get drier, the amount of water availability will most likely decrease. The drought of 2014 is being noted as the most dangerous and driest drought California has ever seen.

To understand what a drought is, there are different terms and systems of droughts that differentiate among one another. A drought is periods of unusually dry weather that persists long enough to cause environmental or economic problems. Droughts that are lingering for countless years does indeed do a negatively great climatic difference in the environment and do many environmental and social damages: water shortages, agricultural problems, health issues and much more (livescience). There is a total of four categories of droughts: meteorological, hydrological, agricultural, and socioeconomic. The first three are known to measure drought as a physical phenomenon, the last deals with drought in terms of supply and demand (Types of Drought). During the occurrences of a drought, the major factors are having the greatest impacts: Economic, Environmental, and Social.

The United States has suffered droughts in the past but as mentioned before, 2014 is noted as being the worst of all. California is similar to an arid state with a Mediterranean climate, those who have lived in California has certainly lived through a drought in their lifetime. Since the 1900’s there have been extended droughts at least once a decade, last one ending in 2009 (CBS Sacramento: Drought Way of Life). Between 1980 and until now, 16 drought events have cost a combined $210 billion in the U.S., and thousands have died due to the droughts effects.(LiveScience). Research shows that the 2014 drought epidemic has nearly 91 percent of the state undergoing “Severe to exceptional drought. More than seventeen communities scattered across the state are expected to run out of water by mid-May”. Scientists are now seeing that this drought has the most record breaking dryness than the previous drought that had happened in 1850. (Global Risk Insights)

A notable dry period of dry conditions was experienced most in the 1920’s and well into the 1930’s. Three twentieth century droughts were of particular importance from a water supply standpoint – the droughts of 1928 – 35, 1976 – 77, and 1987 – 91. The year of 1928 – 35 was considered as the dustbowl drought as it established hydrologic criteria widely used in designing storage capacity and yield of large Northern California reservoirs.The drought of 1977 served as a wakeup call for water agencies that were unprepared for major cutbacks in their supplies. The 1987 – 92 drought was noted as its six-year duration. Adopting of measures such as a 14 month ban on all lawn watering, the city installed a temporary emergency desalination plant and an emergency pipeline. (Department of Water Resources)

Not only is everyone in California suffering through the consequences of the drought, our commercial agricultural system is also being affected. Lack of water calls for desperate measures: with not enough water to maintain our growing plants with sufficient nutrients, it delays the growth rate of the vegetation, and that inconvenience will cause a food supply shortage. In addition to that, economic supply and demand will be uneven in the marketing procedure, which will have the effect of high prices in produce in marketing. Food availability, affordability and quality drive food security problems in the world are all being affected right now as the drought continues on. (Global Risk Insights)

Hunger and famine are a great issue at hand, our agriculture system is what keeping us healthy and placing foods in our grocery stores. Little water will not support food crops towards the livestock nor will they have enough grass or grains to be feed upon. When droughts are at their peak of their dryness, it destroys food sources, and those who suffers are us. We go hungry and if hunger lasts for a long period of time, famine is surely to come to be the new epidemic.

Lack of clean and dependable water resources can lead to public health problems. As noted before, significant drought events have occurred and can have different affects in different areas. (CDC) The use of water for any health care resource is vital and it has to be within everyones reach in order to have a healthy lifestyle. Saving water is indeed important, but that should not eliminate the water being used to wash ones hands to reduce germs from the hands. (LiveScience) Although we are in a drought, that should not limit the continuous use of hand washing. Droughts creates lack of clean water resource for drinking, public sanitation and personal hygiene, which unfortunately can lean to multiple wide ranges of life-threatening diseases. In addition, health concerns can have everyone suffering, lack of water can lead to dehydration and the human body can function certain amount of days without water.

Farmers in the agricultural system work at their hardest to have food growing for our personal hunger needs. In the season of a drought, farmers are worried about their crops and paying out of their pocked to keep their crops alive and doing any means necessary to keep their crops. Farmers run a chance that they will loose all of their financial benefactors if a drought destroys their crops. Having water to nurture their crops is another fact; spending more money to have specialized irrigation or wells drilled up for the farmers to have a continuation of water.

Lack of water for the surrounding environment is not the only factor of danger that endangers the surrounding area; Lack of moisture and precipitation from the drought conditions can produce out-of-control wildfires with hazardous conditions in forests and across range lands. The negative result of this environmental danger results in injuries/death, extensive damage. Many unfortunate consequences can arise from this negative factor. Not only does the environment suffer from this inconvenience, workers in the wood or timber industries are also being affected.

Climate change with the danger of the drought is not a good combination together; water reservoirs, lakes and dams are shrinking rapidly. Water quality can be in danger. Shrinking amounts can cause dangerous contaminants such as heavy metal, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and sediments. An example of a shrinking dam: Folsom Lake. Folsom Lake normally holds just under 1 million acre feet of water. However during this drought it is only 33 percent of average. The lake’s extremely low levels have become one of the droughts most iconic images. Other reservoirs across the state were hitting record lows across the state, alarming water agencies to do necessary water cutbacks. (CBS Sacramento: Hard to Recover)

The same factors as the commercial agricultural farmers hold the same fate as the businessmen in the aquatic industry. Those who work in the boating or fishing industry may not have the luck to sell their goods due to the lakes or other water resources drying up or reaching abnormal water levels. Hydroelectric power energy companies rely their energy functioning on running water, and this would be expensive for both the company and the customers as they would be needed to pay extra. Workers working on ships or sail boats may find difficulty navigating their way through streams, river, and canals due to low water levels. This would be considered as a expensive business transportation for receiving or sending goods and materials.

During a drought, officials may issue a water restriction measure;Governor Jerry Brown, has requested the Sacramento City Council and all Californians to approve a 20 percent reduction in water use for everyone in the city. This is a mandatory rationing so that homes, businesses and farms will not run dry over the sumer (SF gate). Depending where everyone lives, water restriction measure procedures can vary on odd or even days of the week, at night, or on weekends. The restriction may vary from hours, days or in some cases prohibit use of water. No matter the case, it is important to check with your local water utility for more information. (How to Survive a Drought.)

The future still holds many questions and discovery in the long run for the environment and towards everyone. The population is increasing everyday, and in arid, and wet regions the demand of water supplies are still the same. Not only is the expansion of the population is causing a bit of worrisome troubles about the future use of water, but the idea of global warming.(LiveScience) With increasing levels of global warming, who knows how the environment will deal with more strong droughts. The least thing everyone can do is be prepared for dry seasons with little rainfall, and dangerous environmental consequences. However, the good new is everyone can help save water, we all have the ability to make a difference in the environment.

There are multiple ways to save water and take consideration to the environment, and it all starts with how we make a change to our lifestyle. The major places to observe water waste would be in the kitchen, bathroom, how we do laundry, and activities that are done outside. The average gallons wasted during showers and brushing our teeth with running water is as least 2.5 gallons per minute. Washing a full load of clothes in the washing machine is 15-50 gallons per load, depending what kind of appliances one owns. The leaking problems under the sink, faucets, toilet, and bathtub can actually waste more water than anything else; the average gallon waste is at least 30 gallons per day in leaks. When working outside, its is important to reserve water as much as one can. As the average water waste when one is working outside is at least 20 gallons. By replacing energy and water efficient appliances. (City of Sacramento: We Are in A Drought)

The drought of this country and the regions that are suffering with it, has no good cause for everyone and the environment. The ongoing California drought provides a unsavory view of future water shortages and its impact on agricultural production and food safety. Preventing a drought is something that everyone in the world cannot avoid, if it is going to strike then it’s going to strike, there is no stopping it, unless if rainfall comes. However, what we can prevent is our precious water going to waste by making water efficient choices that will conserve water.

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