It turns out SoCal has gotten pretty good at dealing with its semi-arid climate, and has gotten as close to "drought-proof" as anyone could hope for, in the words of a rep for the Southern California Water Committee. Before last week's rain came and turned our streets into rivers that needed to be forded like something out of Oregon Trail, any conversation about the weather was dominated by drought (and megadrought). One curious factoid was that, of the 17 communities predicted to run out of water reserves soon, only four were in dusty old SoCal. "Reservoirs in the south around Los Angeles are brimming, groundwater basins remain comfortably stocked and recycling and conservation programs have freed up abundant reserves," according to the Wall Street Journal, and Southern California communities are mostly only being asked to voluntarily conserve.
Meanwhile, several Northern California areas (mostly the more rural ones) are under mandatory restrictions, and some are facing full-fledged water emergencies. Since 1987, water agencies in Southern California have pumped $12 billion into improving infrastructure, building new dams and reservoirs, and encouraging conservation at the same time. Now it's paying off.
While SoCal is scrimping and saving like it's onDoomsday Preppers, the north's water project funding has been "more sporadic and less ambitious." New emergency legislation was passed March 1 to help fund water projects in the north, but many agricultural areas in the state (the nation's biggest grower) are still hard-hit and could face water stoppages by the California Department of Water Resources if conditions don't improve. A stoppage would translate to higher food prices in California and throughout the country.
· In California, Drought Plays Out Unexpectedly [WSJ]
· What's Causing California's Worst Drought in Centuries? [Curbed LA]