Dried Out California, For How Long? – Water Crisis Series

Majid Ali, M.D.

 Brown is the new green. Private lawns are considered civically irresponsible. Homeowners are expected to convert lawns to drought-tolerant landscaping, or fake grass. The summer has not officially begun. California’s reservoirs have just about one year of water supply left. What if weeks without rain turn into years without it?, residents ask.

Why is my neighbor’s car glistening? Does a fish deserves to live when a cherry tree will die?


In May of 2015, California is in its fourth year of the great drought. Some climate scientists fear that it may be the worst arid spell in 1,200 years. Wells will come up dry. Fields will go fallow. Forest might burn. The drought for burn in memories. For how long?, who will know?


Ingenuity created an Eden, and ingenuity will save it, despite those who imagine the state is doomed. The New York Time captioned on May 3, 2015. The accompanying photo read: A buoy stuck on the bottom of a bone-dry Lake McSwain.

A buoy stuck on the bottom of a bone-dry Lake McSwain.CreditKen Light/Contact Pres.

A redundant sign in a fallow field in Los Banos, Calif.

Still, casting California farmers — who produce about half of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables — as crony capitalist water gluttons may not be entirely fair. Yes, the water is subsidized, through taxpayer-funded dams, canals and pumping systems. But that water, in some cases, ends up as habitat for birds and wildlife. As it drains away, it can recharge badly depleted underground aquifers.

Farmers have already let more than 400,000 acres go fallow and took a $2 billion hit last year. They may add 600,000 acres to that total this year. Almonds, after all, are a healthy food source.


Here are closing words from the Time’s article: The drought may indeed be a long overdue bill for creating an oasis civilization. But therein lies a solution. The Golden State is an invention, with lives to match. If the drought continues, California will be forced to rely even more on what has long sustained it — imagination. Not a bad thing to have too much of.

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