As California droughts intensify, ecosystems and rural communities will bear the brunt of the impacts, according to a top official with the National Wildlife Federation.
Drought is a common problem across the West, as water becomes scarce as rivers and groundwater run dry and rivers flood. The situation has been most acute in California and the Central Valley, where the water has diminished to just about half of what it was in the 1970s.
The effects are already being felt throughout the nation’s agricultural heartland — but increasingly in California’s rural areas.
“As the drought and climate change become increasingly severe, many more areas of the state will face severe and persistent water shortages,” said Mike Bivens, executive director of the California Drought Program, in an April 20 email to the News Service. “The longer the drought and the climate continue to worsen, the larger the negative impacts will grow on agriculture, water supply, and other key sectors of the California economy.”
In the coming months, the U.S. will experience its worst heat wave in decades, the National Weather Service said, and forecasters expect another six to 10 inches of rain in southern California.
The National Wildlife Federation’s Bivens is hopeful that climate change will result in a “much more severe” drought across the Central Valley, he said in an email. As a result, “we are hopeful that the impacts to wildlife in the Central Valley will lessen or be eliminated altogether,” he said.
The National Wildlife Federation is asking California Gov. Jerry Brown to issue an executive order directing local governments to take swift action to protect water resources.
“We are asking Gov. Brown to act immediately to issue an executive order preventing agencies from further cutting water flow across the state,” said Bivens. “The California Drought Program and dozens of organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, are