Please. Try to calm yourself. We know that headline might seem kind of crazy. After all, haven’t we seen the maps? Heard about the troubling statistics about how California is running out of water?
Of course we have. And of course, we think being aware of the current drought conditions and taking steps to conserve water is important to our own short-term survival. But today, we’re going to focus, instead, on the long-term.
The Los Angeles Aqueduct was built in 1913. Within about twenty years, we’d completely devastated the region from which we imported water. Owens Lake, once hundreds of miles long and wide, became a dry lakebed solely due to our diversions. And the loss of lakewater was exacerbated by drought, right? Wrong. The next major drought to hit the golden state wasn’t until the early 1930s, well after Owens Lake had gone dry.
This is just one example of many such instances. Our point is, water importation to Los Angeles is something that happens all the time. It happens to other major cities, like San Fransisco and San Diego, as well.
Los Angeles is the second largest urban center in the United States. In the past century, the city’s population has swelled by 600% from 500,000 to 3.8 million. Where do we get all the water for all those people who now live here? We must divert it from elsewhere, often creating artificial drought conditions for the people who are left behind on their drained-dry land.
The fact of the matter is, unless we change human nature and reverse a century of urbanization, there will always be more people living in the City of Angels than can be supported locally. Importation exists, and it isn’t going anywhere for a good, long while. But let’s be aware of the ongoing, continuous effects of said importation.
Yes, the drought is important. And yes, it’s a good starting-point for a conversation about conservation. But let’s not make it the whole conversation. After all, this drought will end, eventually. And after the drought is over, we’re still going to take water from Owens Valley and Mono Lake, so let’s live with that in mind and be responsible with all our water all the time.