California Drought May Be Officially Over, But Concerns Linger

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Startlingly barren land, empty rivers and rising temperatures have worried the California population for six years, and residents’ concerns are not over.

The drought in California has damaged home life, jobs and crops, and although the drought officially ended April 4, it is still affecting a large portion of the population.

Maya Graham

“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” California’s Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement. In recent months, Brown has ordered a 25 percent cut in urban water use statewide, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The drought, considered the worst in the state’s history, formally started in December 2011. More than one-quarter of the state’s population – or 10.3 million people — were affected, with farmers hit the hardest. The Western Growers Association estimated 17,000 farm jobs were lost in 2014.

Homeowners and companies are still working to use less water to try to prevent another drought. People are taking measures into their own hands to attempt to avert another crisis. Residents are flushing less, taking shorter showers and watering plants early in the morning or late in the afternoon when temperatures are cooler.

While residents elsewhere in the country use water at their normal rates, Californians remain careful about how they use water.

According to CNBC, 57 percent of water use in the state goes toward landscaping. To cut down in this area, many people are not watering plants, replacing floral plants with rocks and/or planting drought-tolerant plants like agave. Most lawns in residential areas have lost their green, and it seems certain that residents will not be getting them back anytime soon.

The Central Valley aquifer plans to stop the chronic over-pumping of water, which has supplied farms and land but has drained the underground reservoir. This is becoming controversial because it may be leading to the “sinking” of parts of California, threatening the ground’s stability, according to the Mercury News. According to NASA satellites, the floor of San Joaquin Valley has sunk 20 to 24 inches because of the lack of water underground.

According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, 58 percent of California was in an “exceptional drought” condition in July 2014. As of July 2017, however, that designation no longer applied anywhere in the state.

Concerns about the drought have lessened, even though 23 percent of California is still labeled as “abnormally dry.”

Despite the odds, Californians continue to hope the trend continues.

Maya Graham is a student at Waltham High School, Waltham, Mass.

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