Drought and Water Shortages in California Painfully Illustrate Unsustainable Water Practices

The water supply crisis in the state of California is now of epic proportions, as reported recently by the Huffington Post (Jan 31st) and the New York Times (Feb 1st). Current water usage practices in an ongoing drought are, in a word, unsustainable. Environmentally-minded observers have long known this; but still California does not mandate certain water conservation strategies state-wide, even as the Brown administration considers multi-billion-dollar water infrastructure projects that unfortunately illustrate the West’s near-total dependence upon hard-path water management technologies.

There are many causes at work, including (most likely) long-term climate change trends. But it’s important for us — as citizens and policymakers — to recognize this is a human-made crisis, not a “natural” one, given the demands placed upon limited water sources by the nation’s largest agricultural economy (heavily dependent on irrigation) and largest human population (38 million + in 2013).

Photo: Ryan Dumbo, cited in the Huff Post 31 Jan 2014

Photo: Ryan Dumbo, cited in the Huff Post 31 Jan 2014

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