Editoria: We Must Save Water

The drought could eliminate about 20,000 jobs in California.
The drought could eliminate about 20,000 jobs in California.
Foto: Aurelia Ventura / La Opinión

SPANISH VERSION

California is undergoing a desperate situation due to lack of water. The Sierra snowpack is at 13 percent of its regular average, water reserves are well below what’s normal, and in this dry winter the high temperatures kept breaking all seasonal records.

Extraordinary measures are needed. Those were recently announced in Sacramento, in a call to save water that is already underway. The new measures aim at the consumption at restaurants, hotels and gardens. It is estimated that irrigation of gardens and lawns consume 44% of the water used in our state’s urban and suburban areas.

The emergency actions did not apply to the powerful agricultural industry, which could lose up to $3,000 million this year, as well as 17,000 jobs. In 2015, the Valle Central will not receive, for the second year in a row, water from the federal irrigation system. Meanwhile, cities will get 25 percent of their full contract allocation, to ensure safety and health.

The agricultural sector, which consumes 80% of the state’s water, is extracting the liquid from groundwater wells to produce their crops. So much water was pumped from underground last year that more than one thousand residential wells went dry, leaving thousands of Central Valley homes without running water.

One of the environmentalists’ proposals in regard to water used by the agricultural sector is to forget about the crops that need more water, such as almonds, as well as reducing cattle, whose water consumption makes it inefficient as a source of food.

If the current situation is worrying, the future looks even worse. The gloomiest predictions point that California has only one year of water left in the reservoirs, and that we are only in the third year of a decade of drought. The reality is that saving water remains a question of personal responsibility, although the new measures show that compliance monitoring will be stricter and, finally, wasters will face fines.