Environmental Complexities

Here’s a case of interlocking consequences that shows how complicated environmental policies can be.

California uses a LOT of water – a truly staggering amount, because of its size, population, and especially its agriculture. Three quarters of the water used in California goes to agriculture.

This water drain is causing extensive long-term damage to the aquifers in the Colorado River Basin. Our current drought, which has now run for over 10 years, has drained those aquifers alarmingly, and no one is sure how long it might take them to recharge.

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/07/30/groundwater-depletion-in-colorado-river-basin-adds-big-risks-to-water-security/

The upshot is that large-scale water-intensive agriculture – the sort that supplies everything from Farmer’s Markets to Safeway – may not be sustainable in California. The policy of “buy local” may be a bad idea for now.

It’s too early to say for sure, but again, 75% of the water used in California goes to agriculture. If nothing else, that alone means that home water conservation can have only a small effect on the current situation.

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