California's About to Run Out of Water

Posted by K R on

CALIFORNIA IS NOW heading into its fourth year of record-breaking drought, with no liquid relief in sight. High temperatures, little precipitation, and historically low snowpack have left the state with dwindling water reserves. The situation is so bad, as NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti wrote in an LA Times op-ed last week, that California has only a year of water left in its reservoirs. Yep, you heard that right: one year of water. That’s absolutely terrifying—but thankfully not quite true, says Jeffrey Kightlinger, the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. “It’s a glib generalization of where the situation is at,” he says. State and local agencies won’t just let faucets run dry a year from now—they’ll stretch out their water reserves as long and as thin as they can. Kightlinger says that his SoCal district, which serves 19 million people (that’s one out of every two Californians), has stored water reserves that will last three years with prudent conservation. Still…that’s only three years. State and local officials have to find ways to cope with the drought right now. According to people who run the state’s water use, there’s no way around California’s harsh reality: Farmers and city-dwellers alike will have to use less water. And someone will probably have to make them do it. The first draconian option: household water rationing. In California, wholesalers like MWD SoCal sell water to local agencies, which in turn sell to individual households. It’s those local agencies that will ration water, attempting to bring the average Californian’s water usage below 150 gallons per day. (That’s what Californians consume now, and it’s actually pretty low for Americans). But this is price rationing, not turn-off-your-taps-at-HQ rationing. Go over the limit, and you might spend as much money on the last 30 gallons as you did on the first 130. “Those penalties usually drive people to push their water use down because they realize they can cut their bill in half,” says Kightlinger. “That’s when you see people going from seven-minute showers to two-minute showers.” via California's About to Run Out of Water. We Have to Act Now | WIRED.

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