The year is 2014, and then-Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency. On April 2, 2017, he lifted the state of emergency, but at the same time, announced that all Californians must continue water conversation efforts.
Here we are in 2021 and facing one of the worst droughts in the state's history, and we have nowhere to turn for help.
Water officials define a "water year" as starting in October of the year prior and ending in September of the current year for a bit of background. So, for example, "water year" 2021 started in October of 2020 and ends this September.
Remember all the newscasts this past winter about not enough snow and rain in California and how it would affect us later in the year, especially the Central Valley? Unfortunately, those warnings are now coming to fruition, and as I stated above, there is not much we or anyone else can do about it.
We are looking at record levels of lakes, reservoirs, and rivers drying up throughout the state, which has repercussions not only on agricultural concerns, but more importantly, our groundwater that we rely on for drinking, bathing, and more.
A "Mega Drought"
California is now facing the worst drought in over four years. Today, 37 million people have been impacted by what many officials call the "megadrought" of 2021.
Within the state, 95% of the state is experiencing "severe Drought," which puts the land around us in severe danger of wildfires worse than last year, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIA).
In 2020 over 8,200 wildfires consumed our state, which was double the amount from the prior year.
So far this year, scorching weather has dried out reservoirs and made us more susceptible to wildfires breaking out in record numbers far worse than 2020, according to the NIDIS.
California has over 1500 reservoirs, and many of them are 50% lower than they should be at this time of year.
In April, the weather turned the San Gabriel reservoir lake bed into dust. Unfortunately, it won't see rain until the end of next year.
The California drought has caused many farmers to plow under their profitable crops due to the water shortage and grow crops that need less water and return less income.
Less income to farmers means less income to the state through taxes. So the drought affects every level of business in California and especially in the valley where agriculture thrives.
Lake Oroville-a primary body of water that helps to generate energy through hydroelectric power will hit a record low in August if things stay as they are.
IF that happens, officials will be forced to close down a primary hydroelectric power plant putting strain on the power grid in the hottest part of the summer.
Due to the drought earlier this month, 130 houseboats were hauled out of the lake as the water levels hit 38% capacity. According to the California Department of Water Resources, water levels are only 45% of June's average levels.
As for boat owners, they best be prepared for a rough summer for any kind of boating, not just houseboats, also known as party boats.
Experts caution that this drought will also devastate the wildlife population and the tourism industry throughout the state.
Governor Newsom's Press Conference
Lake Mendocino should have about 40 feet of water, but in April of 2021, Governor Newsom held a press conference there where he said. "Oftentimes, we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed a historic moment."
Before this press conference, the California Department of Water Resources reduced to 5% the expected water allocation. This move had farmers leaving large portions of their lands unseeded. Others were forced to purchase supplemental water, which comes at an exorbitant cost. In some cases, water costs were as high as $1,00 to $2,000 per acre-foot in May, according to the California Farm Bureau.
Due to temperatures continuing to rise while water levels in local reservoirs fall, we could be for a devastating summer that increases wildfires that impact our state agriculture and tourism. California residents should be bracing for the worst drought season since 2014.
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