Currently California is facing a water shortage. The issue has been addressed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in February. He called for all state agencies to find the way to help in the statewide water shortage. This is California’s third consecutive year of drought and last spring and summer was the worst of the season because it had the lowest amount of water recorded and California’s reservoirs were at their lowest point as well which did not help in the water shortage. Many agencies have been acquired to find possible solutions to the water shortage, the Department of Water Resources has been directed to find solutions to the problem as well as asking people to conserve water.
One of the main factors of the water shortage is the many polluted rivers and waterways California has. Rivers are polluted with trash and run-off of chemical waste from many different places. Storms as well are a big factor in the polluted water. After many storms run-off from many rivers from neighboring places all ends up in the Pacific at some point. In San Diego run-off from the Tijuana River always ends up on San Diego Beaches. Making the water polluted and filled with trash. The trash ends up in places where water is needed and the water cannot be used because it is not viable.
Rivers provide for a large amount of water that farmers need to grow their crops in California. Many farms are built along the many rivers. With pollution in the water many farmers cant use the water that the river provides because it would cause their crops to go bad. And would lead to many other problems and possibly failure and loss of the farms. (Imperial Beach, San Diego, CA)
One of the problems in the polluted waterways is that more freshwater is being used. California has many rivers that have unhealthy water so river waters cant be used. Since more freshwater is being used it is not being replenished, more water is being used and less is being put back. Through the recent years there has been less rain that has been able to replenish the California water system. Water is a necessity for Californians because California supplies more than one-fourth of the worlds agriculture. Water is something that farmers and farms cannot go with out. It is vital for farmers to have water or else many farms would collapse and the world would have less food and it would have dire consequences.
California has started many programs to start to clean the polluted waterways. Sacramento Regional Sanitation District has started the “All About Wastewater” program that covers water treatment and ways to recycle the water that has been polluted. The State Water Resource Control Board is in charge of making sure the waters are not polluted and if so they have to find solutions to try and make the water less polluted. The Bay Protection and Toxic Waste Cleanup program helps protects the bays waterways and ensure the coast is pollution free. Many of these programs are in use to try and protect the waterways but still don’t help a lot with the current water program because many of the water ways are still polluted. They help to protect but their efforts aren’t what we need because California is still in need of water.
Currently California is 60% of normal for water runoff and last year California was 53% of normal. With recent rain it still doesn’t help the water supply because it would slightly increase the amount of water in California’s reserve. Being that California is well below normal actions have to be taken to make sure each city has enough water to make sure it can survive.
Many cities have taken actions by themselves to conserve water. Las Virgenes, CA has taken mandatory conservation measures to make water last. These mandatory measures started in March of 2009 and are currently in place. People are not allowed to irrigate between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Irrigation cannot happen during rainy weather or one day after rain has occurred. Water may not run off into the streets, gutters, or sidewalks. Watering down your driveways or sidewalks is prohibited. Restaurants may only give water upon request and hotels and motels must ask its long-time visitors to re-use towels and sheets so less water will be used in the cleaning of towels and sheets.
Many cities have joined in to the mandatory water conservation. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has unveiled a plan to start conserving water. If his plan is used San Diegans would have to conserve more than 45 percent of its outdoor water usage. As well San Diegans would have to conserve more than 5 percent of its indoor water usage. If Mayor Jerry Sanders plan is used the mandatory conservation would be effective on July 1st of 2009.
Santa Clara County and many others have as well planned for mandatory conservation but with less restrictions. Many of the cities have plans in the works but many of them are waiting for the rain to stop to get a complete count of how much water California actually has because the rainy season is not over and more rain is yet to come. More rain is in the works but many are not hopeful that it would replenish the system. Other counties have has asked for people to volunteer to use less water. Sacramento and Placer counties have been asked by California American water to conserve water.
The current water shortage has left many reservoirs depleted with water. Littlerock reservoir has had a decrease in its water level in the recent years. The loss in water has had a devastating toll on the agriculture business. Revenues have been lost in alarming rates. This year to date more than $300 million has been lost due to the water shortages. More than $2 billion can be lost by the end of the year or possibly $3 billion by the end of 2009. Littlerock Reservoir, Littlerock, CA
Many predict that to be back to normal California would have to be at more than 120 percent of normal. As the rainy season will come to an end many believe that it is not a possibility because it would have to rain more than double what it has rained in the recent months to possibly get up to that percentage. With the summer coming up on us it is inevitable that the amount of water needed will not come to California and replenish the system.
Southern California is widely affected as it has more people it has to give water to and more people. It has to house major cities like Los Angeles and San Diego which have big populations. Northern California’s water supply is important as well because of the vast agricultural land that is has. Most of the worlds agriculture comes from California’s Central Valley. Such as small area provides for a large supply of agriculture and the small area needs to have water.
The water pollution problem doesn’t affect the South as much as it affects the coasts and the rivers of California. The countless oil spills that have occurred on the coast including the most recent in San Francisco in 2007 which devastated San Francisco’s beaches. It closed more than 8 beaches and the cleanup process took many days. Spills like this make it hard to build desalination plants because they need fresh clean water to work. With the water being polluted due to oil it makes it harder to get fresh water to the San Francisco bay area.
Many solutions have came up since Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared California in s a state of emergency with its water supply. Many desalination factories have been planned, Carlsbad is using one of the biggest water supply that California has to offer, the Pacific Ocean. The plan to build the Carlsbad desalination plant is in the works and is reported to be the Western Hemispheres largest desalination plant. San Diego would plan to spend more than $300 million to build the plant. The plant is in the works and could possibly be built in the next year and start giving people water by 2011. Some people say its to long to wait for water and there are many critics to the proposed plant. Projected Site for Desalination Plant in Carlsbad, CA
The Carlsbad project is opposed by many in San Diego. The Sierra Club opposed the plant because they believe that it would raise the price of water in the area and it would have devastating impact of the environment. It would devastate the fish, more than millions will killed or displaced while the projected site is being built. When the plant is finished it would suck up more than 100 million gallons of water from the Pacific ocean and would provide more than 300,000 people with drinking water. Its not much but it would provide more water for people who now need it. This would only give water to the people in the surrounding area. This is a solution for a small area and it would not help California’s water problem.
Many solutions are possible but many of those solutions will have many different consequences. Building more desalination plants will create more water for a small amount of people and possibly stop some of the water shortages. A problem with desalination plants is they have to be close to water and the ocean so most of the people benefiting from the water are near the ocean. As well desalination plants displace and kill many water animals. Possibly exterminating many fishes and species that have to live neat the coast. Desalination plants also take to long to build, there are only a handful of desalination plants and many of them are proposed to be built. As of 2006 California has planned to build more than 17 desalination plants on the California coast.
If California continues to keep with its current water practices it will run out of water and the consequences will be bad. Farms would fail due to lack of water, many species of birds and fishes and other animals that depend on water. Water prices would sky rocket at local supermarkets and water would just be a thing everyone needs.
One solution I have is to start bringing in water from the ocean through the many canals that California has built. Improving the canals to start to take out much of the salt it contains. Once canals are able to extract the salt then we would start using the water that the canals have to supply the farms and agricultural business’s with water. With that the building of smaller desalination plants along the canal systems would also help to take out the salt. Building rain catchers along highways and in farms so farmers could keep there own water and use there own water would also decrease the use of water that California provides. The small water catchers could be attached to tanks housed in the ground to hold water. Each local community has to deal with the water problem on small scale to help themselves become less water dependent. California must as well provide for ways to save water.
The desalination plants would be the best idea at the time to help save water. The polluted rivers should be given more importance from the California water authorities because they can provide a huge number of water to California farmers. Having specialist check the water and having more people clean the water would help more. The California Corrections Department could help out more by getting inmates to clean the river ways. They help clean streets so they look better, they can help clean the water to help combat the drought and polluted waterways.
Thorngren, J.R.. “Pollution on California.” Pollution in California. 07 Jun 2006. 11 Apr 2009 <http://daphne.palomar.edu/calenvironment/pollution.htm>. “Mandatory Conservation Measures.” Las Virgenes Municipal Water District. 04 Jun 2008. 11 Apr 2009 <http://www.lvmwd.com/index.aspx?page=44>. “California American Water asks for conservation.” Sacramento Business Journal. 31 Mar 2009. 11 Apr 2009 <http://sacramento.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2009/03/30/daily36.html>. “Dry California OKs huge desalination plant.” MSNBC. 07 Apr 2008. Associated Press. 11 Apr 2009 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26075457/>. “California Needs to Move Cautiously on Desalination.” Pacific Institute. 27 Jun 2006. 11 Apr 2009 <http://www.pacinst.org/reports/desalination/20060627.html>. “Tijuana River Pollution, San Diego.” Tijuana River Pollution Pictures. 27 Feb 2009. 11 Apr 2009 <http://www.oceanlight.com/log/tijuana-river-pollution-san-diego.html>. “Oil spill closes San Francisco beache.” MSNBC. 8 Nov 200. 11 Apr 2009 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21689998/>. Schwarzenegger, Arnold. “Gov. Schwarzenegger Takes Action to Address California’s Water Shortage.” Office of the Governor. 27 Feb 2009. 11 Apr 2009 <http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/11556/>.