With California’s agriculture production accounting for 15% of the U.S. crop sales, the continuous drought has upset both the economic and social communities. Along with the drought the groundwater levels have declined drastically. Groundwater directly supplies about 30% of the state’s water and about 85% of its drinking water.
In addition, wildfires are more likely due to the drier hotter climate. Wildfires have many longer term impacts besides burning down many trees and underbrush. They damage homes and other structures in their way causing harm to people and animals. Increasing wildfires lead to an increase in landslides and floods because the water will not absorb into the charred ground.
The floods and landslides contaminate the already scarce water supply. Due to the scarcity of water, there have been “water-wars,” where citizens wish to draw water from the Delta-Mendota Canal that protects wildlife. The future of this delta’s structure depends on the choices that these citizens make. Authorities must decide how to allocate the evermore scarce sources of water. Water rights are being taken away from farmers, disabling them from producing crops. Along the lines of water supply, communities where residents use more than 165 gallons a day will have to cut their usage by 35%.
Besides the water supply, food supplies have been affected as well. Agriculturally, farmers do not have enough water to cultivate their crops. This threatens the food supply of the United States because as mentioned, California produces about 15% of the nation’s crop sales. The United States trades its goods with other countries and the loss of goods from California will ricochet around the world.
California has had a $40 billion a year farm economy, but they can’t keep up with it because there’s not enough water. California produces 84% of US peaches, 94% of US plums, 99% of US artichokes and 94% of US broccoli, leading the nation in much of its farm exports. No continuous rain has watered Californian lands for the past three years. The dry spells have halted much of Californian farming, taking away a large portion of American farm economy.
A vast zone of increasing pressure over the West Coast is blocking Pacific Storms from coming ashore to California. Instead, it is deflecting them towards Alaska and British Columbia. High pressure zones are very common to the Pacific Northwest; however, most break down within a month and allow rain to get to California. This particular zone is stubborn and has withstood movement for 13 months. It’s proving to be one of the most persistent and strongest high pressure areas in Californian history.
According to Bob Benjamin, a forecaster for National Weather Service, in Monterrey, “This ridge is sort of a mountain in the atmosphere. In most years, it comes and goes. This year it came and didn’t go.” Meteorologists have predicted unbroken heat soon to be carried by southeastern winds. Several heat waves have brought temperatures that broke 100 degrees Fahrenheit that have evaporated reservoirs.
Written by: Elise Varblow, Alyce Hong, Sara Howell, Hana Komine