Hearing about the water shortage in California and given the opportunity of this class, I wanted to learn more about what was happening in the West. This water shortage is not just affecting California but is a wider spread issue affecting the whole Colorado River basin. These water issues stem from over use of of the water source. Allocating of the water source of the Colorado River happened decades and decades ago. The allocation of this source of water has not changed despite the amount of water going down. Basically more water is being given out than there even is. A common misconception is that the drought is due too a simple lack of rain and snow. This has exacerbated the problem but it’s more complicated.
The water shortage has not only affected agriculture, but agriculture has affected the water shortage. Landscapes never meant to support agriculture are cultivated with crops that suck up more water than is used for residential purposes. In the case of water coming from the Colorado River, more than 70 percent goes to agriculture and farming. Yes this product is consumed by the rest of the country but what crops are grown is not strategic. Because of government subsidies crops that suck up an unusually large amount of water are supported and in some cases over watering is encouraged. Due to “use it or lose it” farmers in the west use up water whether they need or not in order to keep the same allocation of water. There is some hope in this situation, however. The governor of California created a conservation mandate, and according to ca. gov, California has met this mandate for seven months now. This may seem small but it’s a step in the right direction.
You may wonder how this effects you not living in the Western United States. Lack of water to crops we need more than cotton effects the price of these products nation wide. Also, water is a huge source of electricity to the west. As water behind dams falls, the electricity produced decreases; electricity from other sources must be relocated affecting electricity in other parts of the nation. This water shortage is not just a problem for the West; it’s a problem for the whole nation. The way in which water is used must be changed; we can’t expect for record amounts of rainfall to save this water crisis.