Friday, February 20, 2009

WATER RATIONING IN CALIFORNIA

MSNBC - Federal water managers said that they plan to cut off water, at least temporarily, to thousands of California farms as a result of the deepening drought gripping the state.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said parched reservoirs and patchy rainfall this year were forcing them to completely stop surface water deliveries for at least a two-week period beginning March 1. Authorities said they haven't had to take such a drastic move for more than 15 years.

The situation could improve slightly if more rain falls over the next few weeks, and officials will know by mid-March if they can release more irrigation supplies to growers.

LA Times, Feb 4 - California's farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act to slow the advance of global warming, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said. . .

Chu warned of water shortages plaguing the West and Upper Midwest and particularly dire consequences for California, his home state, the nation's leading agricultural producer. In a worst case, Chu said, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, all but eliminating a natural storage system for water vital to agriculture.

"I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he said. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." And, he added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going" either.

A pair of recent studies raise similar warnings. One, published in January in the journal Science, raised the specter of worldwide crop shortages as temperatures rise. Another, penned by UC Berkeley researchers last year, estimated California has about $2.5 trillion in real estate assets -- including agriculture -- endangered by warming.