All Dried Up

Maggie Kelso, Staff Writer

We’ve all heard about the drought in the Southwestern United States. For many of us here on campus that hail from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and other affected states, it is an issue that hits home. However, the reality of this situation is that it should not only be relevant to those who come from this region–it should reach everyone equally. The long-term repercussions of this drought will have lasting consequences on life in the U.S. Southwest, both now and down the road.

The Southwestern regions of America is primarily desert, so it does not traditionally see much rain in a normal year. In fact, this area receives an average of 0-15 inches of rain per year. Over the last two years, the annual rainfall has dropped to almost nothing. This change in precipitation is beginning to cause dramatic effects, but not in the way that you might think. In California, the governor has recently instituted a restriction on the pumping of water from underground aquifers. This is following a year where, for agricultural purposes, an underground basin the size of one and a half Lake Meads was drained. This massive reduction of underground water might not be felt immediately but given the lasting presence of the drought, this excessive used of water is extremely detrimental to the future of the area.

The biggest concern about this drought is the access to sustainable water sources for all people who live in this region. While local farmers and agricultural workers find themselves complaining heavily about the restrictions, they do not see the bigger picture. These aquifers cannot be replenished in a meaningful way in a short amount of time. With a drought as severe as this current one, it is very unlikely that any of the small amount of water that does manage to fall will even make it all the way to these underground basins. Many of these farmers are taking access to water for granted and will be devastated down the line when they find themselves completely out of water with no ability to obtain more for farming or personal use.

While I do not think that this drought warrants legislation from the federal government, it is necessary for the state of California to take action. Until recently, it was the only state in the region that had no restriction on the pumping of underground water and it must continue to enforce these new pumping laws, not for the good of its people now, but for the good of the people in the near and distant future.

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