Why the California Drought Matters

Why the California Drought Matters

From the onset of its creation, California has been a beautiful oasis of picturesque landscapes filled with palm trees and redwoods faintly humming the Beach Boys into the wind. Likewise, high school students also know that if ever faced with the SAT question “Nelly’s face : Band-Aid :: California : _____” the answer is most likely (b) drought. Frequently present, always confusing and worrisome.

If you are from California, please stick with me. While you “can’t even” when it comes to another article about the drought, most of the country feels like this…

 Source: Elliot Tebele, Instagram @fuckjerry

Source: Elliot Tebele, Instagram @fuckjerry

Images from Lake Oroville and NASA show the drastic toll that the drought has had on water resources around the state.

 Source: Getty; Lake Oroville, Midwell Marina, July 2011 and August 2014

Source: Getty; Lake Oroville, Midwell Marina, July 2011 and August 2014

 Source: Getty; Lake Oroville, Enterprise Bridge, July 2011 and August 2014

Source: Getty; Lake Oroville, Enterprise Bridge, July 2011 and August 2014

 Source: NASA, Sierra Nevada, January 2013 and January 2014

Source: NASA, Sierra Nevada, January 2013 and January 2014

“Wowza” is right. As of October 26th of this year, almost half of flow gauges in state rivers indicated that streamflows were less than 10 percent of normal. On November 14th, Folsom Lake, a 60-year old reservoir 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, fell to historic lows holding about 14 percent of its capacity. Groundwater wells have caused water tables to drop 50 feet or more in some places. According to a University of California, Davis study, the drought is costing California 2.7 billion dollars in 2015. While it is also projected that the state can handle the economic impacts on a macro scale, individuals are feeling the effects of the drought. Approximately 21,000 people involved in the food industry will lose their jobs this year. And more farmers than ever are choosing to “fallow” and leave their land unsown to increase productivity or to sell their water to other farmers.

To Californians, this news is older than pumpkin spice latte jokes. But, if you are not a California Gurl or Boi, after about 2 minutes of sincerely hoping your favorite wine stays below 20 dollars per bottle, you’re back to deciding whether or not you want Chipotle for dinner. This cannot possibly affect anyone outside of California, right? 

Unfortunately, even your Chipotle dinner will feel the impact from the drought, especially if you opt for barbacoa or steak as the drought has depleted cattle herds to 30 to 40 years lows. In August, Chipotle increased entrée prices 4 to 6 percent due to price hikes in the food industry. Also, as California is the leading producer of the nation’s almonds, sweet rice, milk, plus 75 more commodities, you may be seeing higher prices at the grocery store. So while you sip your almond milk horchata, pour a little out for the homies in California. (But not too much!)

Attack of the Shower Curtain

Attack of the Shower Curtain