5 Things to Know About California’s Water Crisis

ENVIRONMENT

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown announced his state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions. Here are five things you need to know about California’s water situation. (Nat Geo News)

Learn all about drought with our encyclopedic entry.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including why this matters to people outside California.

Download this spectacular Nat Geo map to understand "California's Water Challenge" and how droughts can impact entire regions. Map by National Geographic

Click to enlarge and download this spectacular Nat Geo map to understand “California’s Water Challenge” and how droughts can impact entire regions.
Map by National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

Here's a nice precipitation map of California from the good folks at the National Atlas. Map by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Geological Survey

Here’s a nice precipitation map of California from the good folks at the National Atlas.
Map by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Geological Survey

 

 

  • Why are some conservationists critical of the water restrictions recently imposed on California residents?

 

  • What can Californians do to help mitigate the drought?
    • Let FEMA give you some suggestions here!
      • Don’t pour water down the drain! There may be another use for it, like watering indoor plants.
      • If you want to play in the sprinkler, or water the lawn, try not to water the driveway or sidewalk.
      • Listen to the rules from authorities. They want to make sure there’s enough water for the things we really need.
      • Take short showers, not baths. Showers use less water.
      • Don’t let the water run when you brush your teeth.
      • Take a break from using your outdoor water toys. When the drought ends, you can play with them again.
    • Suffocate your lawn and start xeriscaping! Use our encyclopedic entry to find out what it is, and why it sounds so cool and low-maintenance.
    • Support drought-awareness and groundwater-awareness campaigns so every community and municipality is working to conserve water. Here is another fascinating map from the NY Times that shows daily residential use in gallons per capita. Santa Cruz has strict rules and some of the lowest water-use in the state, while some Central Valley residents don’t even have meters.
    • Invest in water-recycling programs. Orange County is already going “from toilet to tap,” and the technology is good enough for the world’s richest man.
    • Support in desalination technology. Encourage Silicon Valley‘s powerful venture capitalists to invest in cost-effective desal start-ups.
    • Invest in fog-catching technology. Northern California’s temperate rain forests are blanketed by fog. According to our encyclopedic entry, as fog glides in, water droplets form around fog catchers’ thin screens and drip to collection pools below. In one day, a single screen can collect more than a hundred gallons of water.
    • Pipes Across America? Citizen groups (and a few politicians) have submitted plans to install enormous water pipelines to California from water-rich places such as Alaska, the Great Lakes, and the Missouri River basin. (Residents of Alaska, the Great Lakes region, and the Missouri River basin are not entirely on board with these ideas.)

 

  • What is the truly terrifying secret climatologists whisper about the California drought?
    • It’s not really unusual. The climate California is now experiencing may be part of a pattern of long-lasting droughts. The last century was unusually, luckily, wet.
    • In other words, this might not get better for a long time.

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: 5 Things You Should Know About California’s Water Crisis

Nat Geo: What is a drought?

Nat Geo: Droughts 101 video

Nat Geo: Could California’s Drought Last 200 Years?

Nat Geo: California’s Megadrought blog post

New York Times: Mapping the Spread of Drought Across the U.S.

New York Times: How Water Cuts Could Affect Every Community in California map (includes size of proposed cuts, changes in consumption, and daily gallons per capita)

FEMA: Drought

One response to “5 Things to Know About California’s Water Crisis

  1. Pingback: Watch Western Wildfires Burn After Years of Drought | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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