Media fails to tell the full story when it comes to California’s drought

May 3, 2021

By Stephanie H. Freedman

Reports are now coming out that California, once again, is heading into a severe drought. Los Angeles Times reported that as “wells dry up, crops imperiled, farm workers in limbo” in California. Outlets are releasing tips on how to reduce your water use. Vox blames the “rising temperatures, climate change and lack of rain” for the “decrease in water supply”.

What the media is missing is California’s long history with water in the state. In the past ten years, the state has used the issue to pass multiple water bonds with the promise of building water storage. Even with these promises, California is still allowing 80% of its water drain back into the ocean. California water storage infrastructure has only been used at 60% capacity on average the last decade, which makes building new storage seem like a pipe dream for the state.  

Water storage infrastructure projects and conversations to store more of the state’s current water supply are being grinded to a halt due to the current legal climate of the state. Environmental special interests fight to “protect” endangered species while allowing crops, rivers and foliage run dry. 

When California had this same issue in 2016, official’s response was to ration their residents’ water usage and even go as far as asking residents to be “shower cops” who call officials if their neighbors are using too much water. They also threatened $10,000 fines on their residents. All this happened while officials continued to ignore the calls for increased water storage to harness rainfall during the good years. 

The good years came in 2018 when California’s rainy season was reported to be the wettest season in 40 years. In one month, an estimated 18 trillion gallons of water fell on the state. Yet, having learned nothing from the 2016 drought, most of the water was diverted into the ocean. 

As history repeats itself, the media will continue to report that climate change is responsible for the state’s water shortage. California’s water history will tell another story.


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