Author: Kathryn

California’s drought-tolerant plants are causing drought in the future

California’s drought-tolerant plants are causing drought in the future

They used to call California ocean desalination a disaster. But water crisis brings new look

The water crisis in California is not nearly as bad as it was in 2002. But the state’s residents need to brace for a fresh round of water shortages over the next decade, experts say.

A combination of low rainfall, a growing population and a water-efficient plant use have left state authorities scrambling to find solutions as the state begins to run out of water in 2014.

By then, there may be as many as three decades of water supply shortages in California – the result of a crisis that began under the tenure of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s also only a harbinger for a much bigger problem that could lie ahead.

While Schwarzenegger presided over a dramatic drop in California water consumption, the rest of the nation was hit with record drought and declining water supplies. In the Pacific Northwest, irrigation efforts were suspended and water-intensive crops were left unharvested – a phenomenon called the “drought in the future.” And many of California’s neighbors to the south saw their water supplies suffer as well.

But the latest round of water problems in California are not nearly as bad as they were in 2002. State officials think the worst-case scenario, and perhaps more likely, is an average of three years’ supply. But the problem is far from resolved.

“I don’t know if this is going to be a long-term problem,” said Jeff Gannon, a water resources expert at the University of California, Davis. “With some of the other [water] crises we have had, we have had periods of years where we have had a temporary shortage. This is the first that really has a significant effect.”

The latest crisis stems from two main factors: First, after years of drought and the use of drought-tolerant grasses, the plant is producing less water. And second, rainfall has been relatively light this year because of a low El Nino, which could lead to even drier conditions later this year – if and when another El Nino returns.

“The problem is that both of these conditions have combined to reduce the amount of water we have in California,” said Gary Giddens, a regional water resources expert at the University of California, Mer

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