The state’s governor said Thursday that more than two decades of devastating drought exacerbated by human-caused climate change means California must collect, process and desalinate much more water.
After unveiling an “aggressive” new strategy to tackle water depletion, Gavin Newsom said he wants to strengthen aging infrastructure to keep pace with a rapidly changing environment.
“Climate change means that the drought will not last two years in a row, as it has historically,” Newsom said in a statement.
“Drought is a constant here in the American West, and California is adapting to this new reality.”
The plan, unveiled Thursday, calls for more above ground storage as well as better ways to capture the billions of gallons of rain that would normally just run into the ocean.
It also includes plans to reuse more water and desalinate seawater.
The American West has been experiencing its worst drought in more than a millennium for more than 20 years.
As part of efforts to fight the drought, southern Californians have been told not to water their lawns more than once or twice a week, prompting a murmur from some of the area’s wealthiest homeowners.
Scientists predict California’s already overstretched water supplies will shrink by another 10 percent in the coming decades, and the current drought is thought to be part of the region’s long-term drought.
This process is being accelerated by global warming, as humanity’s uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels continues to release insulating gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The planet has already warmed by an average of 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times and is expected to get hotter even if governments meet their pollution reduction targets.
Higher temperatures exacerbate the effects of drought by evaporating more moisture from the soil, even as plants try to absorb more moisture, leaving less moisture to run into rivers and streams.
“Regardless of drought or flooding, less water will be available to people in this changed climate,” the state’s 16-page plan says.
“To keep up with the pace of climate change, California must act smarter and faster to upgrade our water systems. Upgrading our water systems will help make up for the water losses California will lose due to hotter, drier weather.”
“California needs to capture, recycle, desalinate and conserve more water…to use water that would otherwise be unusable, effectively build up reserves, and expand our ability to harvest water after severe storms during dry periods.”
California expected to lose 10% of its water within 20 years, Gov. Newsom calls for urgent action.
© 2022 AFP
Quote: California plans to boost water supply due to drought (2022 Aug 11), retrieved Aug 11, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-california-boost-drought.html.
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