Student’s Corner

Although it is not a recent discovery, California’s 4 year drought has been in the news in the past week because there was an announcement that the state will be out of water in a year. There have been reports of illegal water thefts, and desalination is being considered as a viable option to increase the dwindling freshwater supply. As a way of trying to manage the drought, California has imposed its first mandatory water restrictions. This means that supply to local water agencies will be restricted by 25%, and cities, towns and citizens are being asked to reduce their water usage. There will be fines and penalties for those who exceed the allotted amount.

It is worth noting that most of California’s water goes to the agricultural sector. California grows a significant portion of the produce that we eat, with many crops that are unique to the state. Under the executive order of the water restriction, farms now must report their water usage to the state. Produce requires a large amount of water, but meat takes a staggering amount to produce. One pound of beef requires 2500 gallons of water! Meat production was curiously missing from the new restriction as was the dairy industry and fracking, which is particularly water-intensive.

It remains to be seen how this drought will affect California’s industry, but perhaps the rationing focus should be shifted towards sectors that consume the most water in order to make the greatest impact.

“The most powerful thing any of us can do as individuals is to shift the market demand from the goods that consume the most water to those that require less. That’ll go much farther than giving up the 645,802,325,581 showers necessary to offset our missing water.”