Most of us are lucky to not have to think about water too often.
It’s something that’s always been there when we need it. And that prevalence enables us to take it for granted. No one ever stops for a minute and thinks how much life would suck if we didn’t have access to fresh water.
But we need to start thinking about water a little more. And not just some of us — all of us.
California’s drought affects us all. The state’s farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. By virtue of that, the average American consumes more than 300 gallons of California water per week.
Ninety-nine percent of the nation’s artichokes come from California. So do 94 percent of broccoli, 99 percent of almonds, 97 percent of apricots, 90 percent of grapes, and so on. Basically, everything that you had in your salad for lunch at work yesterday as a ruse to convince your coworkers you’re on a diet.
In short, we are all contributing to the drought.
And that’s obviously a problem when you consider that agriculture in California, a $46 billion industry, uses 80 percent of all water consumed in the state.
It still would not matter if water in California was at a surplus. But drought in the Colorado River, which supplies water to California and six other states — Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming — and Mexico, plus record low snow accumulation in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, another critical water source, is putting the state’s overall water supply in peril. Indeed, 98 percent of California is currently experiencing somewhere between a moderate to exceptional drought.
Global warming also may or may not be a factor.
The state is doing everything it can to reserve its supply, including an increase in water-efficient drip irrigation for farming, mandatory restrictions for water use, and across-the-board regulations.
Still, if you live far away from California, this is probably not a problem that’s going to cause you too much distress. At least not right now. But it’s always good to remember that problems in one part of the country have far-reaching consequences.
And if you’re reading this from California, then besides limiting your water consumption, you should also probably stray from fun-but-unnecessary water-related activities, such as water balloon fights, slip n’ slides, bobbing for apples, ice bucket challenges and wet T-shirt contests.
Actually, scratch that last one. It’s worth a drought.