top of page

California Drought: Working to Alleviate the Pressure


Image courtesy of Unsplash


As 2022 comes to a close, we look back on a year of severe weather events for regions spanning across the globe. From hurricanes to heat waves, the changes in our weather patterns and global climate have become increasingly apparent. By the end of August, the majority of Europe was under some level of drought warning. The BBC reports that this year’s drought was the worst Europe has experienced in 500 years (BBC, 2022). While particularly jarring for Europeans, this type of weather has been no surprise to areas of the United States such as California, where drought conditions have become progressively more commonplace. Fast forward to early November; California – a highly important agricultural hotspot – is currently experiencing very little relief. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the majority of the state is still under severe or extreme drought (U.S. Drought Monitor, 2022).


The lasting drought conditions have proved to have a massive impact on agriculture and the economy as a whole, undoubtedly contributing to the inflation that seems to have no end in sight. With this immense water shortage in some of the state’s top growing regions, farmers are forced to lower their crop yields, resulting in a major strain on the industry. However, the state hopes to mitigate this by encouraging farmers and homeowners alike to cultivate drought-resistant crops and landscape using plants that require less water. At UC Davis, there are efforts underway to spread the word about drought-resistant crops such as agave. Agave is the crop that is necessary in the production of tequila and mezcal, and researchers believe that California farmers could benefit from the minimal watering that these plants require. Although there are still many questions to be answered about the viability of agave in this region, funds such as the Stuart and Lisa Woolf Fund established by UC Davis will seek to contribute to the research that will be much needed in order to adapt to the ever-present drought conditions (Dooley, 2022).


Recent legislation in the state of California also aims to encourage residents to create drought-resistant lawns in order to conserve water. In September, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law seeking to lower the costs required to replace typical grass lawns with more sustainable native plants. The legislation exempts turf-replacement rebates from state income taxes, attempting to save residents on these lawn overhauls (Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, 2022). As many residents struggle to maintain their traditional lawns in drought conditions, some argue that while the switch to drought-tolerant landscaping may be initially pricey, the environmental benefits and lack of maintenance pay off in the long run. In addition to saving water, the native plants can help immensely to create a flourishing ecosystem for local wildlife.


Looking toward the future, climate scientists expect drought conditions to continue into 2023. Meanwhile, California is already experiencing “below-average reservoir storage” (CA Drought Update, 2022). In light of these projections, it’s all-hands-on-deck in order to mitigate the effects of yet another dry period. Today, many residents and lawmakers continue to push for action in hopes of combating climate change and quelling its far-reaching effects.


 

Sources

California. U.S. Drought Monitor. Droughtmonitor.unl.edu. Map released 10 November 2022. https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA


California Drought Update. Drought.ca.gov. Published 25 July 2022. https://drought.ca.gov/media/2022/07/Weekly-CA-Drought-Update-07-25-2022.pdf


California is Making it Cheaper to Replace Your Lawn to Save Water and Save Money. Office of Governor Gavin Newsom. Ca.gov. Published 28 September 2022. https://www.gov.ca.gov/2022/09/28/california-is-making-it-cheaper-to-replace-your-lawn-to-save-water-and-save-money/


Dooley, Emily C. Agave: The New Drought-Tolerant California Crop? UC Davis. Ucdavis.edu. Published 11 August 2022. https://www.ucdavis.edu/food/news/agave-drought-tolerant-california-crop


Europe’s Drought the Worst in 500 Years – Report. BBC News. Bbc.com. Published 23 August 2022. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62648912


Comentarios


bottom of page