Three years into a historic drought in California, with 2013 being the driest year on record for the state, stories like the ones above are proliferating. They point to the fact that Californians are finally turning their concern about the drought into changed behavior. “I think people are just taking it more seriously,” says John Moore, an insurance salesman from Sherman Oaks.
Sao Paulo residents were warned by a top government regulator today to brace for more severe water shortages as President Dilma Rousseff makes the crisis a key campaign issue ahead of this weekend’s runoff vote. “If the drought continues, residents will face more dramatic water shortages in the short term,” Vicente Andreu, president of Brazil’s National Water Agency and a member of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, told reporters in Sao Paulo. “If it doesn’t rain, we run the risk that the region will have a collapse like we’ve never seen before,” he later told state lawmakers.
As California’s severe drought moves into a fourth year, state and local water agencies are working on something called “allocation-based rate structures,” a kind of precursor to water rationing that’s all the rage in Sacramento and in some areas such as Santa Cruz, Irvine and Santa Monica. Here’s how it works: Your local water company, special district or city assigns you and your household a number in gallons — a daily water allocation.
Water wells in central California have begun to run dry, reports the LA Times. (1) “Extreme drought conditions have become so harsh for the Central Valley community of East Porterville [that] many of its residents dependent on their own wells have run out of water.” Tulare County has confirmed their wells have run out of water, and so far hundreds of homes have no running water.
Writing for The Washington Post (WP), journalist Joby Warrick draws attention to what many scientists say is an unprecedented collapse of California’s vast water infrastructure, which is marked by an elaborate system of canals, reservoirs and wells that transfer water from the mountains and other areas to the Central Valley. Altogether, the state contains some 27 million acres of cropland. This system is now failing, say experts, and the consequences will more than likely be unparalleled in California’s history.
In computer models, while the southern portions of the western United States (California, Arizona, New Mexico) will likely face drought, the researchers show the chances for drought in the northwestern states (Washington, Montana, Idaho) may decrease. Prolonged droughts around the world have occurred throughout history. Ault points to the recent ‘Big Dry’ in Australia and modern-era drought in sub-Saharan Africa.
Extreme drought conditions have become so harsh for the Central Valley community of East Porterville, many of its residents dependent on their own wells have run out of water. Roughly 300 homes have received a three-week supply of bottled water after Tulare County officials discovered their wells had gone dry. In all, county officials distributed 15,552 1-gallon bottles of water, and have been filling a 2,500-gallon tank with nonpotable water so residents can flush toilets and bathe.
Hundreds of rural San Joaquin Valley residents no longer can get drinking water from their home faucets because California’s extreme drought has dried up their individual wells, government officials and community groups said. The situation has become so dire that the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services had 12-gallon-per person rations of bottled water delivered on Friday in East Porterville, where at least 182 of the 1,400 households have reported having no or not enough water, according to the Porterville Recorder ( ). Many people in the unincorporated community about 52 miles north of Bakersfield also have been relying on a county-supplied 5,000-gallon water tank filled with non-potable water for bathing and flushing toilets, The Recorder said.
The ongoing drought in the western United States has caused so much loss of groundwater that the Earth, on average, has lifted up about 0.16 inches over the last 18 months, according to a new study. The situation was even worse in the snow-starved mountains of California, where the Earth rose up to 0.