The Inertia Gear Editor
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California drought

Drought? What drought? Image: Unsplash


The Inertia

It’s been a weird winter season here in California and much of the Western U.S.. A ton of early snow in December that had us thinking a drought-ending season might be in the cards followed by one of the driest two months on record, followed by a shocking amount of late-season snowfall. It’s now late April, so chances are we’ve run out of rainy days this season and we can ask the question: overall, did it end up being enough? Almost certainly not.

MWD Map

Affected areas are in red. Photo: MWD.

With snowpack in the Sierras at 38 percent of normal, Southern California residents are already being asked to drastically reduce their water consumption. Six different water agencies under the L.A. area’s Metropolitan Water District, serving six million people in the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and western San Bernardino County, are being asked to reduce  water consumption by 35 percent, with measures such as reducing outdoor watering to one day per week.

“This is a crisis. This is unprecedented. We have never done anything like this before and because we haven’t seen this situation happen like this before, we don’t have enough water to meet normal demands for the six million people living in the State Water Project dependent areas,” said Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

SWP CA

The State Water Project stretches nearly 2/3 the length of California. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The California State Water Project brings water from Northern California and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to drier parts of the state. Considered an “engineering marvel” it is a major contributing factor to California’s population boom, allowing drier areas without sufficient sources of fresh water to be populated. Now, with the startlingly low snowpack in the Sierras, less water is available to be sent to Southern California, resulting in the restrictions. “We’re adapting to climate change in real time,” Hagekhalil said.

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