Megadrought Pushing Hard Choices in California, West

May 24, 2022

Washington Post:

Sasan Saadat, a senior policy expert for Earthjustice, said this megadrought is pushing Californians to make environmental choicesthat scientists didn’t expect to come for decades.

For example, to conserve water resources amid dwindling supplies, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California last month ordered unprecedented limits to “nonessential” water use, or any water used for reasons other than public health, marking the most severe cutbacks ever enacted in the state and affecting about 6 million people. 

“We didn’t expect these results,” Saadat told The Climate 202 when asked about the intensifying weather events Californians face almost every day because of human-caused climate change. “They’re the result of the procrastination of our failures from before,” Saadat said. And, he added, “things will get much worse if we continue to procrastinate.” 

Despite California being known as a beacon for environmental policy across the country, state Sen. Dave Cortese (D) said state legislators have put the drought on the backburner. 

According to Cortese, a matter of what issues should take priority has been a source of delay for California’s state legislature. Part of the reason for the delay, he said, was hoping that the drought would end. The other part, however, is that the legislature was preoccupied with other issues, such as the pandemic, homelessness and wildfires.

But now, he said, that “can’t be an excuse anymore,” adding that the state needs to “make this the highest priority.” 

“These fights have to happen because we have no choice, to sit on our hands is going to result in a multiplicity of disasters and catastrophic consequences.” 

Financial Times (paywall):

The “megadrought” gripping the southwestern US has driven water levels at the two largest reservoirs to record lows, forcing unprecedented government intervention to protect water and power supplies across seven states. Millions of Americans already contending with critical water shortages now face the prospect of black outs as energy demand grows during heatwaves just as hydroelectric power supply is strained.

A US power regulator this week warned that a big swath of the US was at risk of blackouts, partly as a result of drought conditions curtailing hydroelectric supplies. US government climate scientists have said more than half the country is enduring drought conditions, while a separate study estimated that the drought affecting southwestern states was the worst to hit the region for 1,200 years after being exacerbated by human activity.


One Response to “Megadrought Pushing Hard Choices in California, West”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Although the Austin area in central Texas is currently OK, that image calls to mind the 2011 Texas drought where 93% of the state was in Extreme Drought or worse, ultimately killing over 300 million trees, and the Austin area reservoir was down to 30%.

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