California is feeling a little relief from the drought that has devastated crops, lawns, golf courses and plant life for the last four years. Last year, the state had a mandatory water restriction in place, but this year, thanks to a decent amount of snow in the Sierra Mountains, the water restriction has been lifted. The 411 California water districts recently reported enough water to last another three years under the current drought conditions, so that is good news for the people of California. But there are bigger issues looming over the heads of Californians. That issue is the decrease in the water level of the Colorado River. The Colorado River supplies water to 30 million people in seven states, and climate change will continue to reduce the water level in the river by 5 to 20 percent over the next four decades.
The Colorado River has been running especially low for the last ten years because of the intensity of the drought. The 110-mile-long Lake Mead is 130 feet lower than it was in 2000. Some of the reservoirs fed by the Colorado River may never be full again. California sits on the shores of the Pacific yet the state is thirsty for water. San Diego started a project to convert salt water to fresh water. The procedure and the equipment are expensive, but the results are worth it, according to the mayor of San Diego. Los Angeles hasn’t tackled the issue the same way San Diego has, and Northern California is in better shape than Southern California. Northern California has other water sources at its disposal.
The three-year projection from California’s water districts sounds a little too optimistic, according to an article published by sacbee.com. California Water Board Chairperson Felicia Marcus said the state’s new approach to water conservation is a response to the water situation in Northern California. Marcus still wants people to conserve water because she doesn’t believe the water districts have enough water to last three more years. Marcus did say it was OK to use water but use it practically and sensibly. What happens this winter in the Western states is anyone guess, but the hope is it will be a repeat of last winter.