We have all heard the news. Drought in California! Yes, many of us are affected, or afflicted, by it. It has been compared to the drought that California suffered in the 1990’s. Will it get worse? Will it rain after the harsh summer months? Let us take a look at the rain and drought patterns of the 31st state to enter the union.
By April of 2009, California launched a "Save our Water" Program, this need stemming from several years of drought. In Bakersfield, the yearly average is expected to be 6.5 percent. In reality, from 1999 to 2006, the average rainfall was 4.8 percent. The same holds true for Los Angeles, where the yearly average is expected to be 15 percent, but the statistics show it to be (again, from 1999 to 2006) standing at an average of 13.8 percent. Clearly, there is a problem here in California.
Couple the drought with the economic issues, and California has quite a problem. Especially hit hard is Central California, where the farm lands lie. Lose the crops, and lose the farm. No income? Smaller businesses are being forced to shut down since no one has money to purchase. This is not exclusive to California, I know. However, the problem is so bad in California that even check cashing places are forced to close their doors.
Due to the drought, an influx of people moving in, and court-ordered restrictions on water from the delta, there is not enough to go around. Our beautiful mountains no longer have snow, the major reservoirs and groundwater basins are well below average.
What is being done about the drought? What is being done about irrigating these all-important sources of apricots, garlic and corn? The California State Government has set up a "Drought Water Bank". According to the website, we are in "severe" drought conditions, year number three. Yes, three years of severe drought, on the heels of drought-like conditions. This drought water bank (DWR) "will purchase water from willing sellers primarily from water suppliers upstream of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This water will be transferred using State Water Project, or Central Valley Projects facilities to water suppliers that are at risk of experiencing water shortages in 2009". This water will be supplied to people who have access to the specific water banks. Those that do not have access will have to find another means (there are other programs available). Governor Schwarzenegger has issued several plans within DWR. Among them are aggressive water conservation; financial assistance for drought programs; technical assistance for small water systems and private well owners; and drought education and information outreach programs.
DWR is not a new concept. It was used in the early 1990’s, and again during the 2001-2004 drought.
As you can see, droughts are not uncommon to this state. Nor is it in other states. Remember the Dust Bowl? Now that was a dry, difficult time.
As hard as we try, though, the only thing that will once again pull California through this tough time, another fire season, and rising produce prices is a merciful act of God.