by ALEX RAGHUNANDAN Staff Writer
As a result of warmer temperatures in California and extremely low records of snowfall, the state has been suffering from one of the worst droughts in its history.
One-third of California’s water supply comes from their annual snowfall. The water that comes from the snow supplies water to residents and maintains crops, which are harvested and sent all across the country.
About 18 percent of the average snowfall fell in California in the winter. This resulted in an extreme state-wide drought and higher prices of fruits and vegetables, such as avocados, grapes, and tomatoes, across the entire nation.
“When we had like 5,000 snow days in February my cousins in California had had barely any snow since the beginning of winter, but they never suspected that a drought would be coming,” said freshman Ilene Joy.
In order to prevent the drought from worsening, major water distributors have begun to work together to create a plan that will distribute water evenly throughout the state.
Normally, water from the snow-capped peaks of Northern California flow down the sun-soaked southern areas of the state through the California Aqueduct, which was constructed in the 1960s. Due to the low snowfall, all water that is available flows down to the south, leaving the north with little to no water. The water agencies have decided to attempt to re-engineer the aqueduct to send some water back uphill.
Although this attempt will cost millions of dollars, distributors think it is worth it in order to keep profitable crops alive, like grapevines in Napa Valley, which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. However, it will be quite a feat since no aqueduct anywhere in the world is designed to go backwards.
The plan has been drawn up by five major water distributors who sell water to farmers for irrigation. The budget fluctuates anywhere from one-and-a-half to nine-and-a-half million dollars.
The plan involved using emergency water storage and sending water up north while still sending a substantial amount of water down south.
Diesel engines, which will be used to power the engineering marvel, have already been ordered since the drought was predicted earlier in the year when there was low records of snowfall in California and in its neighboring states.
Depending on how the weather plays out over the next couple of years, the aqueduct may have to go through the process of being reversed multiple times.
Although the drought is occurring on the West Coast, prices for produce have skyrocketed across the country, affecting millions nationwide.
Studies have shown that avocados, broccoli, grapes, lettuce, melons, peppers, and tomatoes will take the biggest hit. The range of price increases vary from avocados with a 28 percent increase to peppers with a 14 percent increase.
“Usually my mom tries to get me to eat salad by buying fresh vegetables from the supermarket, but lately she has given up because she said that prices have just risen too much. At least she’ll finally let me eat my pizza in peace,” said freshman Ashley DeMichele.
It is estimated that 500,000 to 1,000,000 acres of farming land will be unplowed this year.
With the hot California summer approaching and little water available, wildfires have been spreading faster than usual. On Thursday, May 1, more than 1,000 acres of land was burned by a wildfire near Rancho Cucomunga, a suburb of Los Angeles.
As of now, the government and water agencies say conservation is key. With only so much water to spare, farmers and residents alike are being asked to use less water until the drought dilemma is solved.
With luck, the blueprints and budget to re-engineer the California Aqueduct will be approved on Saturday, June 14 so water can be pushed north throughout the summer.
If the plan to re-engineer the aqueduct is not approved or is not successful, how do you think it will not only affect the state of California, but the nation as a whole?