By Guillermo Azábal
Los Angeles, USA, Jul 16 (EFE).- California is experiencing its worst drought in 1,200 years and 95% of its territory is in a state of severe risk due to water shortages brought on by an explosive cocktail of climate change, uncontrolled use of water and a crisis in its supply systems.
Families in California, in the west of the United States, are already feeling the impact of the drought and governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has urged residents to reduce their water consumption by at least 15%.
In the state’s southern counties, which are fed by the dwindling Colorado River and are home to nearly half of all Californians, there are places where outdoor watering can only be carried out once or twice a week.
The agricultural industry in this important fruit and vegetable growing region is being severely impacted with nearly 200,000 hectares left fallow this season, according to the latest report from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The drought is set to hit the agriculture sector with a $1.2 billion drop in revenue compared to last year.
Experts, analysts and researchers often refer to 1977 as the driest year in California in the last century, but the first 6 months of 2022 are marking a new milestone.
THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Samuel Sandoval, a professor at the University of California, Davis, tells Efe that the dry and wet periods in California are becoming longer due to climate change, adding that the state is in its third consecutive year with no water, “which is why it is so serious.”
This opinion is shared by the UCLA department that tracks drought in the state and which has underlined the fact that so far in 2020 the rainfall has been 30% below the ideal rate.
This is compounded by the decreasing snowfall in the Sierra Nevada.
The California Department of Water Resources estimates that some of the state’s major reservoirs, including Oroville and New Bullards, are at half full at best.
Moreover, the majority of the state’s aquifers are in a situation of water deficit and are at serious risk.
California’s Mediterranean climate has allowed it to be something of an agricultural oasis, its fertile land produces a variety of crops from melons to grapes, onions to lettuce and tomatoes.
In fact, the state produces 95% of the tomatoes that are used to make ketchup in the US.
However, its star product is undoubtedly almond. California’s Central Valley region produces 83% of the almonds consumed around the world, bringing in $9 billion, according to the Almond Board of California.
This year, due to the drought, 120,000 hectares of land used for almond cultivation went unused.
Despite this measure, the California government ruled for the second year running that there was not enough water to supply the farmers of the valley.
This is because, added to the drought and low water levels, the state is obliged by environmental laws to earmark 40% of the total amount of water in its reservoirs to the ocean and California’s lakes and rivers.