California is confronting a prolonged drought that is now entering its fourth year.
However, Washington, and parts of Nevada and Oregon, as well as other western states declared drought emergency.
California’s state regulations reinforce the need for up to 36% mandatory water cutbacks in the metropolitan water use (accounting for 20% of the state’s total water use, while the agriculture accounts for the remaining 80%). The Water Resources Board chair Felicia Marcus declared that:
“This is a community crisis. We want to get this as right as we can.”
As you can see in the image above, California is experiencing different types of drought, but more than 80% of the territory is experiencing extreme (which comes every 20 to 50 years) or exceptional drought, occurring every 50 to 100 years.
Therefore, in response to these arid weather conditions, the regulators decided that citizens who waste the water resources will get steep fines. This means that if residents are caught washing their cars or watering their lawns more than two days a week, as well as other outdoor landscapes (urban irrigation makes up for up to 44% of the total urban water use, according to the State Water Resources Control Board), they will be heavily fined, no doubt there.
Your water provider may limit lawn watering to odd or even dates, depending on your house number. Moreover, Californian inhabitants are prohibited from watering their lawns in the first 48 hours following a considerable amount of rainfall.
In addition, restaurants, lounges, bars and hotels are prohibited from serving water to their customers, unless they ask for it. Motels and hotels are also required to tell their customers that they can opt out of having their towels and bed clothes changed and washed daily.
Democratic Governor Jerry Brown went as far as to propose fining the residents violating the water restrictions with $10,000 fines/day. So far, only a few such citations were handed out. Last year, the state approved $500 fines per day for the water wasters.
Perhaps the most affected by the drought will be the farmers who will lose the money they invested in agriculture. Although the agricultural sector has been exempted from water rationing, the amount of water they use to irrigate their lands might prove insufficient and the extreme and exceptional drought will thus wreak havoc on their crops.
Since the resources will be scarce due to this multi-year drought, it is only normal for the food prices to go up. A poll conducted by Reuters on a sample of 1,305 people over 18, revealed that 43% were financially affected in one way or another by the drought.
In April, another matter, which was up for debate was quickly disregarded, by a court of appeals as it involved charging an unjustifiable higher water rate to those consuming more water than to those who don’t.
There is a chance for the drought to end, if the El Nino climate pattern, which promotes rainfall in the western and southern part of the US lasts throughout the year and brings about strong rainfall. So far, the El Nino phenomenon, which started in March, did reduce the level of drought in some parts of Texas.