California’s Urgent Water Issue


Effects of the California Drought 2019 – 2021 (Credit to Grist)

Adam Quintero


From 2019-2022, California has been experiencing some of its driest years to date and will not slow down. January, February and March had the lowest amount of rain and snowfall on record this year. According to California Drought Action, all counties within the state are under a drought emergency proclamation. 

Back in the summer of 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom asked California residents to cut back 15% of water use, leading to these residents only cutting back 4% instead, according to The Guardian. 

Agriculture also occupies around 80% of water use in California. Water usage in March of this year was the highest California had ever seen since 2015, according to CalMatters. 

A great amount of this water waste is excessively watering lawns and gardens. To help save water, California residents were mandated to only water their lawns and gardens once a week, with failure to comply resulting in a $2,000 fine and a ban. Science teacher Mrs. McCandless shares, “We haven’t started our plants yet but we want to make sure we’re using Waterwise irrigation. We don’t want to overwater the plants and waste that water”. 

Many California-based celebrities have been called out on their extreme uses of water. The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District says Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Hart, Dwyane Wade and more than 1,600 residents have all exceeded water limits despite warnings and fines. Senior Benjamin Michel shares, “I don’t think it’s fair that they get to use as much water as they want just because they can afford the fines but us regular people have to limit our use.” The water district plans on installing a device that would restrict outdoor water usage by 70% and help conserve water. With this threat of slowing water flow, these residents and celebrities have been reasonable about saving water, according to The Guardian.

California residents are officially living in the driest period on record. The Western Municipal Water District of Riverside, which serves over 100,000 residents, has placed restrictions to save 20% of daily water usage. For example, the banning of watering ornamental grass started June 1st, 2022, according to WMWD. The average water use in Riverside in 2021 was around 90 gallons per person. 

California is known for being the US’s most significant agricultural state, producing over 70% of fruit and vegetables in the country. With this much produce being farmed, California uses over 34 million acre-feet of water. According to the California Department of Water Resources, around 1,200 wells have run dry just this year in California. These droughts have severely affected our vegetation and made it harder for water to reach areas like Coalinga, a city in Los Angeles county with a population of 17,000 with only one water source. 

With water being such a finite resource, humans must learn to prioritize and conserve to efficiently serve everyone with the amount of water needed, not wanted.