Saturday, October 11, 2014

Water Usage and the California Drought.

                                                        Comments due by Oct. 19, 2014

That California and many other Western states are suffering of a severe drought is a major problem of concern to the residents of the affected states and to the rest of us who depend on the produce of these severely affected areas. None of this is controversial.

My only aim in this post is to highlight the fact that residential water conservation is to be encouraged but that its contributions in the final analysis are meager to say the least. Note that California is estimated to have at its disposal about 82 Million Acre Feet of water each year to be allocated among the various users.
Residential use, both indoors and outdoors amounts to only 5.6 MAF which is only about 7 % of the overall stock of water. The following brief news item about California touts the fact that water conservation efforts have already saved the equivalent of 27 Billion gallons. That is a fact that is not negotiable. But the real issue is how many MAF does that 27 Billion gallon represent?
You do the math: Each acre Foot is equal to 325,851 gallons. which means that 100,000 AF represents 32.5 Billion gallons. Which in essence says that all the water efforts have saved only 0.0012% of the average annual volume used by the state or a 0.0144 % if the effort is to be mainatined over a year.. Let me repeat that I am not arguing that we should not conserve but pointing out that our residential conservation efforts can never even make a dent in the problem that is facing us.


Water conservation efforts across drought-stricken California hit a new high in August, cutting use by 11.5 percent, according to the state’s Water Resources Control Board. About 27 billion gallons of water were saved over the month of August as Californians responded to a call by Gov. Jerry Brown to cut use by 20 percent overall, with no end to the prolonged dry spell in sight. “Many more California communities are taking the drought seriously and making water conservation a priority — and residents are responding,” Felicia Marcus, State Water Board chair, said in a release. “However, while we can hope for rain, we can’t count on it, so we must keep going.” The earliest numbers for October showed nearly 60 percent of California in the highest category of drought, according to an assessmentfrom the National Drought Mitigation Center. Eighty-one percent of California is now in a state of at least “extreme drought,” the second most severe category, up from 11 percent a year ago, with a total of 37,250,000 people affected.


Maria Hernandez-Norris said...

I cannot exactly connect California drought issues with climate change but I KNOW they are related... thus, this should show people how big of a deal climate change really is! For 3 years now, Californians have fixed leaks, ripped out lawns and shortened showers, adjusting to what officials call the most severe drought in memory. No it seems that they are on knocking on the door of a mega drought.... Megadroughts — dry periods that last decades or even centuries — are very much a reality in the Golden State. They have occurred several times during the past millennium, and researchers said there’s a high chance that California is about to enter another super-long dry spell. Some climate experts actually believe the state is already in the realm of a megadrought.
With California headed to a megadrougt, the rest of the world will surely and slowly follow, it seems.

Sulana Robinson said...

I actually live in California and I heard about the drought around the end of the summer, when the issue grew as a big concern. It was interesting though, to know we might face very serious fates if we don't try to save water... And yet thousands of us still found time to dump buckets over our heads? Sure, we waste a lot more water than a bucket, just by living through our daily routines. But it's so odd that we feel bad about big issues, among this one, but we don't feel bad enough to make changes as a whole. A single pro-environmental group can only do so much if no one else pays attention.

-Sulana Robinson

Chelsea Dow said...

The drought plaguing California has been an environmental issue for some time now, and it is frustrating to observe. Water is such a sacred source of life, and without it not just humans, but the entire ecosystems of which we inhabit, will not survive. How do you maintain and foster a large populous in a drought stricken area without compromising the land/natural world? I think that of course we should promote shorter showers and less all around water usage, but clearly that isn't enough. Even in Prof. Karam's prelude to the article it stated that though there have been efforts to conserve the water, in the long run it hasn't made a dent in the drought issue. However, I do believe in remaining optimistic in times of environmental stress, and perhaps if this slow yet steady momentum of conservation remains, there might be a change of pulling through this massive drought. Indeed, it is an issue that has the capacity to spread nation wide, tapping into all of the State's fresh water supply to support the state of California. This drought has the power to plague the country, and it is up to us as civilians to do all we can to stop it.

Anonymous said...

As Chelsea said, it is very frustrating to observe this environmental issue. I also like the last two sentences of Solana's response: "But it's so odd that we feel bad about big issues, among this one, but we don't feel bad enough to make changes as a whole. A single pro-environmental group can only do so much if no one else pays attention."
It is frustrating to me, at least, because there is nothing that I can really do about it, as I live ~3000 miles away from the problem. I cannot help those affected whatsoever. I see no real options for me other than to sit, watch, and hope that it rains. I would happily donate time, effort, and even some money to efforts that would help those affected by the drought, but since, as Solana said, "A single pro-environmental group can only do so much if no one else pays attention."

-E. Piper Phillips

Anonymous said...

This post has highlighted to me how skewed information involving climate change is in the media. The news claims that 27 billion gallons have already been saved, but like our professor pointed out, that is a minuscule amount in the grand scheme of things. The media is allowing the public to believe that their efforts such as shortening showers are truly making a difference, but in reality it is still not enough. The news should be informing people that even with all of the residential cutbacks, efforts must be made on a much larger scale.

Jennifer Hare

Dylan Hirsch said...

The California drought is a perfect example of how the individual's consumption is really negligible to societies overall water use. The majority of water use in California - I am guessing - is within industry, namely agriculture. This makes perfect sense (in our current economic paradigm), but offers an insight into the institutionalized problems that essentially cause our environmental problems. The fundamental problem with our current economic mode is the fact now that this drought effects individuals as well as industry. When does it become unnecessary for industry to use societies' water supplies for goods or services that will be exported out of state or country. This is the downside of the globalized economic world, something no amount of technology can fix, save only an incredibly clean and cheap energy supply. A short but great read.

Anonymous said...

This is just another example of yet another problem that has been identified as a direct result of human activity. California has always had issues with their water supply, consider the Great Hetch Hetchy debate from 1906-1913. However, this among the other initiatives to bring more water to the region are only temporary fixes. The only way to prevent droughts like this and fix this major issue is by changing the way we look at water and our usage of it. It can no longer be considered a renewable resource, it is being used in such a wasteful manner we cannot honestly expect for there not to be repercussions or severe droughts such as the one mentioned in the article. Society is in for a rude awakening.

-Haylei P.

Anonymous said...

What struck me is that the drought not only affects individuals and communities, but also impacts local industries and economics. True the drought is no small problem and true that even small contributions have made no dent in the effort to save water. But when large industries like farming and agriculture, that also play an integral role in the market of the rest of nation, are impacted- the issue becomes a call to action like the impact of a natural disaster. I can see the drought as some form of natural disaster, in the way it disrupts the lifestyles of impacted individuals, causes shortages of resources and the drying up of industries like farming. The droughts long term impacts are too great a concern to be confined to studies and charts, and apparently too great for the citizens of California alone to handle. In this case I believe the responsibility of sustainable use of water and supply is in the hands of local and state government, and as a nation, we can push them to deal with the issue properly and thoroughly.

Micaela Itona

Anonymous said...

This issue not only concerns me because of the fact that the single most important resource we have on Earth is starting to run out in this area, but because I can't help but think that not everyone in this area cares. Sure, there are people that are caring about this issue and are taking shorter showers and not watering their lawns...but is everyone doing that? Probably not. The fact is that here in America we take things like water for granted. Citizens will think that they have enough water to waste until there is absolutely none left. And, once there is none left, it will be too late. How can we change people's views on this though? Can we start conserving enough water when not enough people care? Even though the article states that people are starting to pay attention, I can't help but feeling that we have a long way to go until we can start really solving this problem, and until people really start caring.

Leanna Molnar

Anonymous said...

This post points out that the news is either misinformed or aren't telling the whole truth about environmental issues. The drought in California is a problem, but the conservation efforts being put in place by the residents don't actually have a big enough effect to be considered part of the solution to the whole problem. The solution needs to be on a bigger scale. But the news report above says the opposite. I believe in a way this is a good thing. It helps people stay positive, but they shouldn't be outright faking the results. We should be informing people about the true results, but make sure that it's not just all the bad stuff. This could be taken as coddling people but they just might need that. People tend to give up early if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. So I took from this post that we shouldn't outright lie about the results, but we shouldn't also report the results as there is no hope! Be truthful with optimism!!

Anonymous said...

This is Mikayla Bonnett's post. It deleted my name for some reason!!

Gian Joseph said...

I agree with you professor, those 27 billion gallons of water they conserved is not putting a dent in the amount of water consumed. Even though 27 billion gallons may seem like a lot in our small eyes, compared to the mass of water consumed it is nothing but a speck. If continue saving only 27 billion gallons per year in California while the rate of consumption is higher than we will be soon say bye to our water supply is California. People sacrificing showers or not watering their lawns is not going to put a dent into this crisis. This problem needs to be solved at the optimal level, the level where the biggest consumers of water are, manufactoring companies, and the Finance and insurance and real estate companies.

Anonymous said...

Having just been in California last week you can see and feel the affects of the drought all around you. The bush is yellow, dry and dead fires are ramped and it is very concerning. I was confused while being there as to where people are still watering nonnative plants such a grass in their front yards.

I do believe the rate at which the drought is continuing and intensifying is the most concerning aspect. Many people are concerned about resources like oil but the state of California might just be the first of many to endure a lack of a resource much more fundamental.

- Elizabeth Eggimann

Anonymous said...

27 billion gallons of water seems like a lot. I can't even begin to imagine how much water it is. But, like stated in this article, it is not putting a dent in the amount of water that is consumed. While sure, that little bit does help, it isn't helping nearly enough. More efforts need to be done to cut water consumption until this huge issue is fixed, or seen as a cause for alarm. Droughts are an environmental and anthropological concern that we need to start talking about. Why is it happening? What can we do about it? The answer doesn't have to lie with individuals cutting the amount of water they use.
-Marrina Gallant

Brianna Connelly said...

The drought in California should be more of a major concern for climate change because it is a prime example of what is happening to our environment in our own country. The environmental conditions that residents are experiencing today actually began in 2011.California officials hope to fix this issue with technology, just as the world hopes to fix global warming with technology. I think technology is helpful and is a key role in finding a solution, however, they are depending on a solution that has not yet been created - which seems a little silly to me. Actions such as using water more efficiently and creating more drought-resistant crops will help us deal with droughts and climate change. Also, planting more trees always helps. I think this issue needs more publicity in order to make the whole world more aware of climate change. I see so much more of superficial subjects on tv and the internet than about this issue. It is a shame that we need something bad to happen before we starting making changes in the way that we live.

-Brianna Connelly

Anonymous said...

It seems that the answer to everything now a days is technology. Unfortunately, that is also the cause of most of our environmental problems. Americans only listen when horrible things are happening, like the California drought. Even with this horrific drought, people are STILL not fully aware. Also, we are relying on technology that does not yet exist to fix this problem. Hopefully, we stop relying on technology and just start changing our actions.

Nicole Virgona

Anonymous said...

Sulana made a great point, California is suffering from its worst drought so far, yet our nation this summer had plenty of water to dump on eachother (myself included). One single environmental group can only do so much with the nation distracted from what is "in" at the moment which was the ALS challenge. Yes it raised awareness for a great cause and it also raised some money, but it still distracted everyone from other issues that our nation is having. If California continues to save and the droughts continue to get worse, how much longer will those people have until all the water is dried up? If the water does all dry up, how many people will be ready to move to another place in which they can have water readily available? and what about the people that can't move? This is what we should really be thinking about, and the reason why the water sources are steadily declining in California is because of climate change. The only way to answer that is if everyone changes their ways so that the rest of the world won't have to suffer. We need to stop thinking about ourselves as individuals and start thinking about ourselves as a species. Until we make ourselves equal to eachother, i don't see any good coming soon.

--Michael Tierney

Anonymous said...

I agree that we must increase our efforts in conserving water. California and other parts of the country are in droughts, although the severity differs. I am not sure if this is from climate change or from increase in population. Even in Westchester there is a drought, although the drought is not as severe as California. I work at a preservation that supplies drinking water to Connecticut via river. During August, September, and October the level of water in the river has decreased drastically. The water got low enough for me to walk about 20 feet from the original bank to the new bank. I think that many factors affect the loss of water including an increase in population and the population using water carelessly. Until society decides to change their habits, this problem is only going to get worse (especially in California).

-Frazer Winsted

Maria-Vitoria Bernardes said...

California's drought issues has been going on for years now, and people know how concerning this issue is but many still don't help towards preserving water. The article states how "eighty-one percent of California is now in a state of at least “extreme drought,” the second most severe category, up from 11 percent a year ago, with a total of 37,250,000 people affected. Water is such an essential part of life it is scary to have a scarce amount of it. It does not only effect people but every living creature and nature. Just because this is a major concerning issue in the state of California does not mean that the entire world isn't effected by this because they are. The entire world needs to be proactive in preserving water because it is a sacred,essential resource. People need to go beyond just not showering a lot or flushing the toilet less times, people need to realize that though water is free, there is not an infinitive amount of it and that is the biggest issue.

Vitoria Bernardes

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Apoorva said...

This drought in California might be a result of negligence by the state government and its residents. However, now that the issue has garnered everybody's attention, they'll probably take further precautions to save and prevent the drought from actually being an anthropological issue from just being an environmental one. Climate change is the main reason why the droughts are probably happening.
People probably need to watch the way they are using or rather abusing water and instead of dumping buckets for a challenge that actually does not cure this disease they can donate the money instead and actually benefit the cause. Water is a big necessity and not just a part of our life and Californians might have to come up with better ways to save water and try to reach the necessary amount so that everyone can have a substantial amount.

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