The Water Revolution is Here
At current usage and population rates, international demand for water in 2030 will outstrip supply by 40 percent. As fresh water supplies dwindle, nations across the globe will face unprecedented, unsettling, and formerly unthinkable choices regarding water, compelled to make difficult decisions about how to allocate the precious resource.
In the U.S., our population has doubled since 1950 while our water use has tripled. Today, over 50% of our country is grappling with drought. Pressure is particularly mounting on arid western states, with California on the frontlines.
According to Jay Famiglietti, NASA’s senior water scientist, California is, in no uncertain terms, running out of water. “Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing,” said Famiglietti. “We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.”
No doubt, Californians are feeling the impact of extreme drought. Water prices have reached a record high in the state. Last month, federal water managers announced that they will no longer allocate agricultural water to a key state canal system for the second year in a row, forcing farmers in the Central Valley (considered to be one of America’s most important agricultural areas) to abandon formerly productive fields.
And while farming, power plants, and factories are the main users of California’s water resource, imposed mandatory restrictions have been placed on homeowners (for lawn watering) hotels, and restaurants limiting water usage.
Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown introduced a $1 billion plan to deal with the state’s growing drought emergency. Part of the funding will go towards providing short term assistance, food, and emergency drinking water to hard-hit communities. A larger chunk of the funding will go towards longer-term projects, such as the development of water recycling and flood-control infrastructure and the construction of desalinization plants.