We all have heard of the drought that California has been experiencing for sometime now. It’s so well known, it’s even becoming the butt of many people’s jokes about California.
But jokes aside, what has caused this current crisis and what are the issues that have arrived out of it?
A drought of this duration and severity is caused by a handful of environmental issues working in tandem. As we’ve read, Earth’s aquifers have been shrinking at an alarming rate. Add this to the fact that the demand on these aquifers are increasing, and the weather warming, and we have the crisis that is currently devastating the state. With an economic and environmental disaster on their hands, one would think water conservation would be of the utmost priority.
In the midst of this crisis, there has been great inequality of water rights that have allowed the already scarce water supply to be further strained. Much of the fault lies with the State and their reluctance to regulate the farming industry. The farming industry accounts for about 80% of the water consumption in the state of California and has been able to water thousands of acres without regulation.
On the other hand, residents’ water usage have been regularly monitored by water fines. This selected regulation has not only allowed the corporate farmers to deplete the water supply even further and leave little for residents, but also created an economic divide between those residents. Wealthier residents have had less of a need to change their water use, while lower income residents have needed to carefully manage and learn to live with less.
Thankfully, this economic inequality has sparked controversy and criticism. As of June 2015, the State has intervened and finally restricted water rights of corporate farmers with plans for further restriction if they deem it necessary. Still, it is troubling to think of the time wasted and the water spent since the beginning of the drought.