State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

A Truce in the California Water Wars

Nationally, the California Water Wars have been something people have been following for months.  As discussed by Water Center expert Tanya Heikkila in her September blog post “California’s other crisis,”  the state’s reservoirs had been significantly depleted and fights had been breaking out all over the state about who deserved water the most – farmers, consumers, industry, or even the downstream fish that would die without sufficient water available.  This war was one that seemed to have no end in sight because no one was willing to compromise.  This fight was most pronounced in the San Joaquin Valley, where potential jobless rate would fare poorly for the state in the next election year.

However, due to a wet winter, Washington will be able to approve extra supplies for cities, farms, and wildlife in California. This wet winter is the end of a 3 year drought, and if this healthy level of rainfall continues, California need not worry about water wars for years to come. However, as no solution was ever made, if a drought begins again, California will find itself in the same situation and no precedent as to how to fix it.

Even though California is in the clear now, it will be important to keep an eye on the water situation of the state in the future. California treads a fine line with their water situation, and even the smallest of changes could cause devastating issues.

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