Monday, June 25, 2007

LA Drought

Southern California is in for a hot, parched summer. Residents are facing a major drought in the Los Angeles area. In the year ending June 30, LA has seen 3.2" or just 8.15 cm. of rain. That's for a whole year. A couple of thousand miles to the north, we get that much in a day.

The Los Angeles Times calls it the "perfect drought" when Mother Nature runs headlong into human nature:

"According to the National Drought Mitigation Centre, southern California faces "extreme drought" this year, with no rain forecast before September. One climatologist referred to the temperatures in Los Angeles as "Death Valley numbers".

"The Sierra Nevada mountains, which typically provide Los Angeles with 50% of its water, have provided just 20% of their normal volume this year, and the snowpack is at its lowest for 20 years. Pumping from an aquifer in the San Fernando Valley was stopped this month because it was contaminated with chromium 6.

"While the waters dry up, demand for the scarce resource increases. Not only has southern California seen a growth in its population of two-to-four times the national average in the past 50 years, but neighbouring states such as Nevada and Arizona are also experiencing population booms. And they all claim water from the same source, the Colorado River."

Is it global warming? That certainly seems to be one cause but it joins the line of over-population and excessive reliance on regional groundwater supplies. The American southwest is learning what other parts of the US, China, Africa and India are learning - you can't take groundwater at more than its "recharge" rate without running dry often when you need water most.
Whatever you do, please don't get smug about this. Canada may appear to have limitless sources of freshwater but appearances can be misleading. We don't get much more rain than a many other places and it's rainfall, not the number of lakes and rivers, that is the key. We can drain those lakes quickly with a canal system but it'll take a long time for them to fill up again. That's one inconvenient truth that those who want us to export our water would rather not discuss.

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