According to a recent study by researchers at NASA and the University of California-Irvine, humans are depleting more than half of the world’s 37 largest aquifers at unsustainable rates, and there is virtually no accurate data showing how much water is left.
From the Huffington Post:
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission seems to think so. The commission announced earlier month that it will extend an unusual water conservation campaign, which it says was responsible for helping the city’s residents surpass usage-reduction goals in the drought-plagued state, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The campaign features a number of racy, double entendre-laden messages such as “Go full frontal,” “quick and easy” and “Short and steamy,” in an ad blitz that includes ads on billboards, buses and social media, plus television spots such as the clip below. The city is spending $300,000 on the latest campaign.
“This campaign worked,” Tyrone Jue, SFPUC communications director, told KPIX, CBS’ San Francisco affiliate. “We want to use the same provocative theme to get people involved and engaged again.”
As San Francisco has the lowest rate of water usage in the state of California, it appears many have gotten on board with the commission’s message.
Others across the nation say they would, too. A majority of respondents to a recent national Reuters/Ipsos poll agreed that they would support rules limiting the use of water to wash their vehicles and water lawns if they lived in a state experiencing drought conditions like what California and other states in the Western U.S. are currently enduring.
In April, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for the state’s urban areas to cut their water consumption by 25 percent. Gov. Brown has further proposed fines of up to $10,000 per day for the worst-offending water-wasters.
Still, others have resisted the call to conserve. As the Washington Post reported Saturday, some wealthy residents of the state have been pushing back, with one Rancho Santa Fe resident telling the paper, “No, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”
Proving that it can happen ( and happen in a short period of time), almost the entire state of Texas has emerged from the multi-year drought that has plagued much of west and north Texas. This is entirely due to the wettest May on record and, as of this morning, potentially the wettest month in the history of the state.
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It was bound to come to this as the drought in California lingers. Individuals and/or groups have started stealing water. From Accuweather:
With the state of California mired in its fourth year of drought and a mandatory 25 percent reduction in water usage in place, reports of water theft have become common.
In April, The Associated Press reported that huge amounts of water went missing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and a state investigation was launched. The delta is a vital body of water, serving 23 million Californians as well as millions of farm acres, according to the Association for California Water Agencies.
The AP reported in February that a number of homeowners in Modesto, California, were fined $1,500 for allegedly taking water from a canal. In another instance, thieves in the town of North San Juan stole hundreds of gallons of water from a fire department tank.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 46 percent of California is under exceptional drought conditions, the most intense measurement of drought according to the monitor. The drought is forecast to worsen this summer.
In Madera County, District Attorney David Linn has instituted a water crime task force to combat the growing trend of water theft occurring throughout the state and to protect rightful property owners from having their valuable water stolen.
Jennifer Allen, spokesperson for the Contra Costa Water District in Concord, about 45 minutes from San Francisco, said it’s not uncommon for her agency to receive reports of water theft, but as the drought has continued, she said there has been an uptick in reports.
With the drought showing no signs of letting up, California continues to formulate new strategies to preserve as much water as possible. On May 5, the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation that calls for a 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use in accordance with the governor’s order.
Coca Cola has been among the vanguard of corporations that recognized the global challenge of clean water availability. In 2009, with the support/assistance of some of their “friends”, the company launched RAIN: The Replenish Africa Initiative. Access to clean water is a challenge across the developing world but is, perhaps, no more critical than in Africa.
The lack of safe drinking water in Africa is no secret. Every year, preventable waterborne illnesses claim the lives of millions of Africans. No single organization can resolve the continent’s water crisis, but business, civil society, NGOs and government can work together to develop sustainable solutions.
The Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) aims to improve access to clean water for 2 million people in Africa by 2015. RAIN is backed by a six-year, $30 million dollar commitment by The Coca-Cola Company and made possible through the support of more than 140 partners who provide development expertise and additional resources required to implement the projects sustainably.
The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s flagship program is making a positive difference in 35 of 55 of African countries by promoting happy and healthy lives. In these countries, we are building sustainable communities, catalyzing investment in clean water access, improving water and sanitation access for school children, replenishing more than 2 billion liters of water annually back to communities and nature, and empowering women through clean water access and entrepreneurship.
Since its launch in 2009, RAIN has reached more than 1 million people with sustainable clean water access. The program’s objectives focus on making a strong, lasting community impact while supporting Coca Cola’s water stewardship goals and helping Africa meet the UN Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation.
RAIN projects are tailored to address the specific water issues in target communities by focusing on the following areas:
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): RAIN improves access to water and sanitation and promotes improved hygiene behaviors for positive impacts on health and development. Approximately 80 percent of RAIN projects have WASH components.
- Watershed Protection: RAIN establishes or enhances sustainable water management practices, improving environmental stewardship and community health.
- Productive Use of Water: RAIN promotes efficient and sustainable use of water for economic development.
We have posted several stories on what is happening to Lake Mead and the impact it will have on Las Vegas, Arizona and Southern California. This is a recent update on the water level and what another 5 foot drop will mean. From Brookings:
This week, the water level in Lake Mead dropped to an all-time low, falling below 1080 feet above sea level for the first time in 78 years. As drought continues to afflict the American West, the dire situation at Lake Mead will continue to have consequences for states like Arizona, California, and Nevada that draw their water supply from Lake Mead.
In a new video Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Pat Mulroy, who served as general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) when one of the worst droughts in the history of the Colorado River hit the region, predicts the current crisis at Lake Mead and why it is a problem.
While we post much on the domestic U.S. drought conditions, there are dozens of locations globally that are experiencing significant or severe instances of water crisis. This is an update for April 2015, care of UNICEF.
Ethiopia: An estimated 8 million of Ethiopia’s 60 million people are at immediate risk due to drought. UNICEF estimates that 1.4 million of those at risk are children under five.
Eritrea: Successive years of drought, combined with the border war with Ethiopia, has created major food shortages. Nearly 1.3 million people are at risk, including an estimated 1 million who have been displaced by the war.
Somalia: Due to seven consecutive poor harvests coupled with chronic insecurity in some regions, food stability is deteriorating, affecting as many as one million people, including 300,000 children aged under 5 years. The drought has been made worse by sudden torrential rains and flash flooding. Sudan: An estimated 2.8 million people in the south face food insecurity in the coming months.
Uganda: About 550,000 people face food insecurity.
Afghanistan: Large parts of the south are severely affected, where 60 to 80 percent of livestock have died. Almost 2.5 million people, or 10 percent of the population, are at risk and many of them will need assistance for at least the next 12 months.
China: In the northern Shanxi province, nearly 3 million people don’t have enough water. About one-third of the province’s wheat crop has been hit by the drought and more than 60 percent of its soil lacks water.
India: The government has mobilized massive relief efforts in several regions. Madhya Pradesh, along with the western states of Rajasthan and Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh in the south, are in the grip of a severe drought following the failure of last year’s monsoon rains. Nearly 130 million people living in 12 States have been seriously affected by what some officials call the worst drought in 100 years.
Iran: The government has informed the United Nations office in Tehran that it is ready to accept international aid to help meet losses estimated at $1.7 billion from the drought. Iran needs about $200 million to provide water tankers and water purifying units for drought-hit areas.
Morocco: The government has launched a $633 million contingency plan to combat the worst drought for a decade. About 70 percent of the country’s arable land has been affected.
Pakistan: Government officials estimate that nearly 3 million people – mostly villagers – face possible starvation. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Pakistan’s southern Thar desert. The drought has devastated crops and livestock in the desert, home to 1 million people, sparking fears of a massive humanitarian crisis.