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The Greatest Water Crisis In The History Of The United States

US Drought Monitor May 5 2015What are we going to do once all the water is gone?  Thanks to the worst drought in more than 1,000 years, the western third of the country is facing the greatest water crisis that the United States has ever seen.  Lake Mead is now the lowest that it has ever been since the Hoover Dam was finished in the 1930s, mandatory water restrictions have already been implemented in the state of California, and there are already widespread reports of people stealing water in some of the worst hit areas.  But this is just the beginning.  Right now, in a desperate attempt to maintain somewhat “normal” levels of activity, water is being pumped out of the ground in the western half of the nation at an absolutely staggering pace.  Once that irreplaceable groundwater is gone, that is when the real crisis will begin.  If this multi-year drought stretches on and becomes the “megadrought” that a lot of scientists are now warning about, life as we know it in much of the country is going to be fundamentally transformed and millions of Americans may be forced to find somewhere else to live.

Simply put, this is not a normal drought.  What the western half of the nation is experiencing right now is highly unusual.  In fact, scientists tell us that California has not seen anything quite like this in at least 1,200 years

Analyzing tree rings that date back to 800 A.D. — a time when Vikings were marauding Europe and the Chinese were inventing gunpowder — there is no three-year period when California’s rainfall has been as low and its temperatures as hot as they have been from 2012 to 2014, the researchers found.

Much of the state of California was once a desert, and much of it is now turning back into a desert.  The same thing can also be said about much of Arizona and much of Nevada.  We never really should have built massive, sprawling cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix in the middle of the desert.  But the 20th century was the wettest century for western North America in about 1,000 years, and we got lulled into a false sense of security.

At this point, the water level in Lake Mead has hit a brand new record low, and authorities are warning that official water rationing could soon begin for both Arizona and Nevada…

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, has hit its lowest level ever. Feeding California, Nevada and Arizona, it can hold a mind-boggling 35 cubic kilometres of water. But it has been many years since it was at capacity, and the situation is only getting worse.

“We’re only at 38 percent full. Lake Mead hasn’t been this low since we were filling it in the 1930s,” said a spokeswoman for the US Bureau of Reclamation in Las Vegas.

If it gets much lower – and with summer approaching and a dwindling snowpack available to replenish it, that looks likely – official rationing will begin for Arizona and Nevada.

And did you know that the once mighty Colorado River no longer even reaches the ocean?  Over 40 million people depend upon this one river, and because the Colorado is slowly dying an enormous amount of water is being pumped out of the ground in a crazed attempt to carry on with business as usual

The Colorado River currently supplies water to more than 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles (as well as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe—none of which lie directly on the river). According to one recent study, 16 million jobs and $1.4 trillion in annual economic activity across the West depend on the Colorado. As the river dries up, farmers and cities have turned to pumping groundwater. In just the last 10 years, the Colorado Basin has lost 15.6 cubic miles of subsurface freshwater, an amount researchers called “shocking.” Once an official shortage is declared, Arizona farmers will increase their rate of pumping even further, to blunt the effect of an anticipated sharp cutback.

The same kind of thing is going on in the middle part of the country.  Farmers are pumping water out of the rapidly shrinking Ogallala Aquifer so fast that a major crisis in the years ahead is virtually guaranteed

Farther east, the Ogallala Aquifer under the High Plains is also shrinking because of too much demand. When the Dust Bowl overtook the Great Plains in the 1930s, the Ogallala had been discovered only recently, and for the most part it wasn’t tapped then to help ease the drought. But large-scale center-pivot irrigation transformed crop production on the plains after World War II, allowing water-thirsty crops like corn and alfalfa for feeding livestock.

But severe drought threatens the southern plains again, and water is being unsustainably drawn from the southern Ogallala Aquifer. The northern Ogallala, found near the surface in Nebraska, is replenished by surface runoff from rivers originating in the Rockies. But farther south in Texas and New Mexico, water lies hundreds of feet below the surface, and does not recharge. Sandra Postel wrote here last month that the Ogallala Aquifer water level in the Texas Panhandle has dropped by up to 15 feet in the past decade, with more than three-quarters of that loss having come during the drought of the past five years. A recent Kansas State University study said that if farmers in Kansas keep irrigating at present rates, 69 percent of the Ogallala Aquifer will be gone in 50 years.

At one time, most of us took water completely for granted.

But now that it is becoming “the new oil”, people are starting to look at water much differently.  Sadly, this even includes thieves

With the state of California mired in its fourth year of drought and a mandatory 25 percent reduction in water usage in place, reports of water theft have become common.

In April, The Associated Press reported that huge amounts of water went missing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and a state investigation was launched. The delta is a vital body of water, serving 23 million Californians as well as millions of farm acres, according to the Association for California Water Agencies.

The AP reported in February that a number of homeowners in Modesto, California, were fined $1,500 for allegedly taking water from a canal. In another instance, thieves in the town of North San Juan stole hundreds of gallons of water from a fire department tank.

In case you are wondering, of course this emerging water crisis is going to deeply affect our food supply.  More than 40 percent of all our fruits and vegetables are grown in the state of California, so this drought is going to end up hitting all of us in the wallet one way or another.

And this water crisis is not the only major threat that our food supply is facing at the moment.  A horrific outbreak of the bird flu has already killed more than 20 million turkeys and chickens, and the price of eggs has already gone up substantially

The cost of a carton of large eggs in the Midwest has jumped nearly 17 percent to $1.39 a dozen from $1.19 since mid-April when the virus began appearing in Iowa’s chicken flocks and farmers culled their flocks to contain any spread.

A much bigger increase has emerged in the eggs used as ingredients in processed products like cake mix and mayonnaise, which account for the majority of what Iowa produces. Those eggs have jumped 63 percent to $1.03 a dozen from 63 cents in the last three weeks, said Rick Brown, senior vice president of Urner Barry, a commodity market analysis firm.

Most of us are accustomed to thinking of the United States as a land of seemingly endless resources, but now we are really starting to bump up against some of our limitations.

Despite all of our technology, the truth is that we are still exceedingly dependent on the weather patterns that produce rain and snow for us.

For years, I have been warning that Dust Bowl conditions would be returning to the western half of the country, and thanks to this multi-year drought we can now see it slowly happening all around us.

And if this drought continues to stretch on, things are going to get worse than this.

Much worse.

Another Reason To Move Away From California: ‘Conditions Are Like A Third-World Country’

Drought - Public DomainAs if anyone actually needed another reason to move out of the crazy state of California, now it is being reported that conditions in some areas of the state “are like a third-world country” due to the multi-year megadrought that has hit the state.  In one California county alone, more than 1,000 wells have gone dry as the groundwater has disappeared.  The state is turning back into a desert, and an increasing number of homes no longer have any water coming out of their taps or showerheads.  So if you weren’t scared away by the wildfires, mudslides, high taxes, crime, gang violence, traffic, insane political correctness, the nightmarish business environment or the constant threat of “the big one” reducing your home to a pile of rubble, perhaps the fact that much of the state could soon be facing Dust Bowl conditions may finally convince you to pack up and leave.  And if you do decide to go, you won’t be alone.  Millions of Californians have fled the state in recent years, and this water crisis could soon spark the greatest migration out of the state that we have ever seen.

Back in 1972, Albert Hammond released a song entitled “It Never Rains In Southern California“, and back then that was considered to be a good thing.

But today, years of very little rain are really starting to take a toll.  In fact, one government official says that conditions in Tulare Country “are like a third-world country”

Near California’s Success Lake, more than 1,000 water wells have failed. Farmers are spending $750,000 to drill 1,800 feet down to keep fields from going fallow. Makeshift showers have sprouted near the church parking lot.

The conditions are like a third-world country,” said Andrew Lockman, a manager at the Office of Emergency Services in Tulare County, in the heart of the state’s agricultural Central Valley about 175 miles (282 kilometers) north of Los Angeles.

As California enters the fourth year of a record drought, its residents and $43 billion agriculture industry have drawn groundwater so low that it’s beyond the reach of existing wells. That’s left thousands with dry taps and pushed farmers to dig deeper as Governor Jerry Brown, a 77-year-old Democrat, orders the first mandatory water rationing in state history.

The mandatory water restrictions that Governor Brown is imposing are going to be very painful for a lot of people.  We have just learned that some California communities will be required to cut their water usage by up to 36 percent

Californians are going to have to start preparing for a dry summer as the dehydrated state prepares for a water crackdown.

In a somewhat controversial move, California water officials drafted a set of mandatory conservation regulations outlining varying degrees to which communities will be required to cut back on water use, ranging from 8 to 36 percent, depending on their history of water consumption.

The regulations — slated for approval in early May — are part of California’s first-ever attempt at mandatory rationing. Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order requiring a 25 percent reduction in urban water use, a historic step in a series of measures aimed at conservation ahead of the state’s fourth consecutive year of drought.

And of course it isn’t just the state of California that is dealing with drought.

All over the southwest United States, we are seeing conditions that we have not witnessed since the days of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

In fact, the water level in Lake Mead is now the lowest that it has been since those days, and it is expected to drop even lower in the months ahead

One of the most stunning places to see its impact is at the nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, near Las Vegas. At about 40 percent of capacity, it’s the lowest it’s been since it was built in the 1930s.

“Just to see the rings around it, it’s just … kind of scary, you know,” says Darlene Paige, a visitor from New York. She’s standing at a vista point above the Hoover Dam on the Arizona side of Lake Mead.

That “ring” is the infamous bathtub ring around the rim of the reservoir. The levels have dropped 140 feet over the past 15 years, exposing a white stain on the gravelly brown mountains above the water. The level is forecast to fall an additional 10 feet by this summer.

According to the Government Accountability Office, it is being projected that a total of 40 U.S. states will be dealing with a shortage of water by the end of the next decade.

It has been said that “water is the new oil”, and this is just the beginning.  The truth is that as bad as things are here, we are actually in far better shape than almost everyone else in the world to deal with the emerging global water crisis.  All over the planet supplies of fresh water are disappearing, and the availability of water is going to increasingly become a major geopolitical issue in the years to come.

And even now, the U.S. government is taking all of this very seriously.  In fact, the EPA is already trying to train our kids to take showers instead of baths

Parents across America who struggle to keep their young rambunctious kids clean now have a new obstacle: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As part of its effort to help save the planet from the dangers of taking too many baths, the EPA’s WaterSense program is trying to convince kids they should avoid bathtubs in favor of showers, which it says is a far more efficient use of water.

“To save even more water, keep your shower under five minutes long—try timing yourself with a clock next time you hop in!” the “WaterSense for Kids” website says.

For most of our lives, most of us have been able to take water for granted.

But now things are changing, and we are going to have to adjust to these new realities.

So what do you think about this emerging water crisis?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

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