Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including why this matters to people outside California.
- Read through the short Nat Geo News article and take a look at the beautiful map above. Where does California get its water?
- snowpack in the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains
- rivers (often fed by snow and rain) such as the Colorado, Sacramento, and San Joaquin
- lakes (often fed by snow and rain) such as Lake Tahoe and Clear Lake
- reservoirs (man-made lakes that collect water from lakes and rivers) such as Shasta and Hetch Hetchy
- groundwater aquifers, which are being depleted as the drought continues
- What other areas of the United States are experiencing severe droughts? The Nat Geo News article and this terrific interactive map from the New York Times might give you some help.
- Texas and Oklahoma are experiencing the worst drought in 500 years.
- The entire Great Basin region is experiencing drought—Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and Utah.
- The Western U.S. in general is experiencing drought conditions, including Washington, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
- Milder droughts stretch across the Upper Midwest, the Gulf Coast, and even the panhandle of Florida.
- Why are some conservationists critical of the water restrictions recently imposed on California residents?
- The restrictions don’t really apply to California’s enormous—and enormously thirsty—agribusiness industry. Agriculture accounts for 80% of water use in the state.
- Take a look at another map in the NY Times‘ series on the California drought. This map outlines how much different communities will have to cut back on water use due to the restrictions.
- 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.)
- Let FEMA give you some suggestions here!
- 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.
Nat Geo: What is a drought?
Nat Geo: Droughts 101 video
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)