Watching Calif.’s drought


It’s no secret California is suffering from a drought.

Conversations about El Nino, Global Warming and the future of California are ever-present.

Delta College Geography Professor Robin Lyons answered questions to help students gain insight on the matter.

“This is the fourth year of the drought and… droughts occur periodically so this is not the first time in history that this has happened… but with global warming it seems as if scientists are concerned that the droughts are getting more severe and longer,” said Lyons.

“[The drought is] especially affecting agriculture… there’s a number of the agricultural crops that really depend on irrigation and they don’t have the water … Some of those orchards have been left and the trees are dying. In other cases they are drawing up ground water to replace irrigation systems, and the ground water draw out means that the land is sinking… and [the land has] been sinking several inches just in this past year because the ground water’s being used up,” added Lyons.

California counties and cities have implemented water use restrictions. People can no longer water lawns or wash cars at home.
People are hoping that conservation and the upcoming El Nino will help ease the drought.

“Normally during an El Nino event we get lots of warmer rain. It may mean we don’t get quite as much snow, the last time we had a big El Nino… we had heavy snow in October or November and then the winter rains came… it melted a lot of the snow but it did cause severe flooding. So it could add a lot more rain and water although some of it goes off, this flooding overland flow, rather than really replenishing but hopefully a lot of it will get to our reservoirs,” said Lyons.

“But just one year, if we go back to drought again after [El Nino], it may not be enough in one year to solve it. It could solve it temporarily but the problem is that Northern California… the El Nino increased rain usually hits Southern California for sure. When you get further north… it’s usually dryer than normal. But we may be a little bit in between but hopefully we’ll get more rain. We could have some severe flooding as a result to.”

There are scary predictions regarding the future of California’s water. Some say we might suffer for generations. Others say we’ll recover.

“In the long term we need to be prepared for more droughts and longer droughts and I would look at not just conservation but other sources,” said Lyons.