California has recorded the driest four-year range from 2012 to 2015, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and things are getting worse with climate change. Satellite images comparing major water bodies in the state with their conditions a decade ago alarmed officials and locals as the images showed an impending water crisis in California.
According to Business Insider, photographs of different major water bodies in California emphasized water lost throughout the decade. According to the State Water Resources Control Board, August 2016 urban water conservation fell down to 18 percent, which is much lower than last year's 27 percent savings. If the event worsens, the California government plans to declare a mandatory conservation measure come January 2017 to save the state's remaining resources.
Meanwhile, the interactive images, which maps out the water resource availability and differences in California, developed by Dean Farrell from the University of North Carolina depict the problem in an easier language for all. By the numbers, California's reservoirs have been loosing around 46 percent of its total capacity than 10 years ago.
Almost 43 percent of the state are categorized to be experiencing severe to exceptional drought, and 41 percent with moderate to severe cases. Based on previous records including statements from DWR, water scarcity is highly influenced by anthropogenic activities, with land use conversion as the top ranking culprit.
Including the ever increasing population of the state, conversions of natural landscapes (e.g., transforming wetlands into almond plantations) were determined as one of the causes of decreasing water availability. Accounting the boom of the almond farm industry in California, there was a noted increase of 27 percent demand for water that's mainly used for irrigation.
Extensive algal blooms that are quite toxic in California waterways also add up to the problem of limited freshwater resource. Aside from that, increased vegetation uptake, lower average precipitation and "snow drought" or decreased incidences of snow were also enumerated as factors affecting California's water scarcity.
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