America Gets Pummeled by the California Drought

Californians have been experiencing extreme drought for years, and they’ve certainly been paying the price.  As months pass with no sign of relief, we can only wonder how long we will have to live like this.  The drought is taking a toll on everyone, and in more ways than you might think.

A Right-Hook to the Face…

The severe lack of water prompted Governor Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency in January and a request for citizens to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 percent.  Goals were not met and a mandatory conservation initiative was recently put into place. Now anyone caught wasting precious water will be fined $500.

In the case of Laura Whitney and Michael Korte, that’s the perfect concoction for a lose-lose situation.  The couple reports taking shorter showers, limiting loads of laundry, and cutting back on watering their lawn, which is exactly what the government prescribed, yet they still face a $500 fine for having a brown lawn.  A letter from the city stated they have 60 days to get their lawn back to an acceptable color or fork up the cash.

“We’re kind of in a quandary about what to do,” Whitney states.  “My friends in Los Angles got these letters warning they could be fined if they water, and I got a letter warning that I could be fined for not watering.”

A Punch to the Gut…

California is one of the largest agricultural producers in the country.  In fact, the Central Valley is responsible for almost 25 percent of the food we eat.  Since this is the third-most severe drought on record, farmers are finding other ways to irrigate their crops.  Tapping into the groundwater supply seems to be the only way out of this mess.

Fortune Magazine explains the situation, “Direct costs to agriculture are expected to reach $1.5 billion, including revenue losses of $1 billion and $500 million in additional water-pumping costs.  This net loss totals about 3% of the state’s total agricultural value.”

Coincidentally, California is the only state that has no groundwater management plan in place, which will only make the situation worse as the drought is expected to continue throughout next year.

And a Jab to the Kneecaps

With a low blow to one of the state’s most significant sources of energy, hydroelectricity, residents better prepare for a boost in their electric bills.

“We’re going to have to purchase more replacement power on the open market – and that is generally more expensive – in order to meet all of our customers’ needs,” stated Lynsey Paolo, spokeswoman for Pacific Gas and Electric Company.  “We’ve been trying to manage our reservoirs in a way that we’re keeping a reasonable supply so that we’ll have low-cost hydro available, but the overall impact is that there will be an impact on rates.”

The state is offsetting in-state hydro power with an increase in renewable energy, gas power plants, and out-of-state imports.  We don’t know how long this drought will last, so looking to different relief efforts is a must.  Taking a proactive role in conserving energy, limiting greenhouse gases, participating in demand response programs, and preserving water supplies will put us on the road to recovery.  Until then, stay thirsty, my friends.

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