California drought pits farmers vs. cities. But neither is the biggest water victim.
A dry spring in the western U.S. brought a drought emergency declaration to an entire region: The drought is now the worst drought in the state of California for decades.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and federal officials on Friday morning declared the first-ever emergency for a drought that has killed off crops and sent the state’s aquifers to historic lows.
The declaration, which will allow state and federal agencies to tap into up to an additional 50 million acre feet of water that otherwise would be unavailable to farmers, could help keep the drought from being the most profound in state history.
The drought is now the worst in the state for decades, and the long list of reasons that are drying up the state’s water supply continues to include a dry winter and spring, a late start to the snowpack-making season, and the failure of plants to absorb rain during a severe drought.
The declaration by Brown’s office followed a similar declaration by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the water agency.
But the drought isn’t the only water problem facing California.
Two months ago, a massive earthquake rocked Northern California, causing massive damage and setting off a series of natural disasters that were only beginning to unfold.
At least three people, including a man who died after jumping into a swimming pool at the Chateaus resort in Whittier, have died from injuries stemming from the earthquake and ensuing fire. Another 15 people remain unaccounted for and may have also died. The death toll is still rising as rescuers race to find and recover the victims.
The earthquake caused so much destruction that some residents are worried that it will affect their plans in the future to move to the area. And already the threat has prompted a flurry of proposals to build more residential complexes in the area that are expected to draw more people to the area than ever before. One, an upscale gated community called the Chateaus, had been under consideration for more than a decade.
“It is very hard to see anything going forward” in the region, said Tom Gorman, a Whittier resident who lives