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Continued: Winter of little snow raises fear of California drought

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  • Last update: April 18, 2014 - 5:02 PM

Problem is, modern California just wasn’t built to handle a world without snow. In California, it seems, all water pipes lead to Los Angeles.

These days Los Angeles gets its water from three main sources, and all start predominantly as snow. Predictably, they all have serious issues when you take climate change into account.

The Los Angeles Aqueduct was built more than 100 years ago and has caused environmental degradation near Mono Lake. In a recent settlement, the city agreed to limit water diversions from this sensitive area.

The California Aqueduct is the single largest user of energy in the state, pumping water from Northern California hundreds of miles (and over a mountain range) to homes in Southern California. In total, water pumping makes up 20 percent of California’s electricity use.

The Colorado River Aqueduct diverts water to Los Angeles from as far away as Wyoming.

When you’re that reliant on snowpack, you’ve got to start thinking outside the box.

Southern California expects an additional New York City’s worth of water-guzzling people over the next 50 years, growing to 31 million by 2060. Meanwhile, California agriculture supplies a majority of the country’s fruits and vegetables, and more than 90 percent of the world’s almonds, pistachios and other specialty products. Clearly, something’s gotta give.

Desalinization and water recycling are obvious future sources of water in Southern California. Still, in a state where agriculture uses 80 percent of the water, cities have a point when they ask: Why can’t we get some of that? Farmers here have a quick reply: How many meals can you go without?



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