Californians can finally take a long shower again
On April 7, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared the state’s three-year-long state of emergency — brought on by a devastating, five-year drought — over in all but four counties.
In the span of a single rainy winter, California’s parched moonscapes were reborn in mud and greenery, bringing sudden, overdue relief to most corners of the long-suffering state.
Photographer Justin Sullivan captured the change in a series of astonishing photographs taken three years apart in the same locations and put the magnitude of the recovery in perspective.
1. In Oroville, a lake that had been reduced to a babbling brook by 2014 has officially been re-lake-ified
2. Boats in Lake Oroville’s marina are finding they have a little more room to maneuver these days
3. Dogs in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights Park have a more vibrant landscape to nose around in
4. Meanwhile, a cemetery in the Presidio got most of its color back
5. In Woodacre, horses are finding 2017 a far more promising grazing experience than the scene three years earlier
6. At Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Lagunitas, the threat of forest fire is finally ebbing
7. In El Dorado Hills, stranded boats are finally returning to the business of floating on water
8. And in Nicasio, ranches are looking a whole lot more postcard-worthy
The end of the water shortage hasn’t been unconditionally good news because of the severity of the weather that brought it about.
Since the beginning of winter, communities across the state have been battered by storms causing mass power outages and worse.
Here’s what happened to a spillway at Lake Oroville after a mudslide.
In February, landslides damaged the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur beyond repair, splitting the town in half, closing businesses, and forcing some residents to airlift in supplies.
Environmental scientists believe drought boom-bust swings like this are a byproduct of climate change.
In addition to its impact on infrastructure, a recent Kansas University study determined this “weather whiplash” can cause severe problems for drinking water quality and devastate ecosystems.
This whiplash is why Brown is urging the state continue to conserve water as if the drought were still going on.
With the danger of harsh and sudden water shortages increasing with changes to the climate, the governor plans to retain many of the water-saving regulations that went into effect during the three-year emergency.
If you live in California, and you worry about your future ability to hydrate, you can call your state legislators and ask them to make the laws permanent.
If you live elsewhere in the country, you can call your elected officials to, you know, make sure they work as hard as they can to make climate change not a thing in the first place.
With the region finally getting back to normal, it’s natural for residents to want to hope for the best.
The best way to realize that hope might just be to prepare for the return of the worst.
Here’s what social networks say about this:
Jon Horn Yes we had a good amount of rain this year, however we are not even close to being out of our drought. Yes our reservoirs are full but our underground water tables are still depleted. Reservoirs are designed to fill quickly and drain quickly and are not a good measure of our current drought situation. We would need years of this kind of rain to start to refill our water tables. We need ground water to call an end to this drought!
Emily Gardina The drought isn’t over. We have been in a drought for the last 20 years or so with one wet winter in the middle tempting people to reset the count and another just past. Give us five consecutive wet winters followed by five mild springs and we can talk about the drought being over. This past winter was a brief respite, nothing more.
Scott Clegg Think about this. There is a finite amount of water on Earth. The amount never changes… Ever. It just moves from place to place. We will never run out. It’s a cycle. The key is getting from a place that has too much, to a place that doesn’t have enough.
Heather Jean A lot of rain doesn’t equal “after drought” any more than “snow” equals no global warming. The trends shows our future will have more of both.
Janet M. Anker Hopefully the country will continue to tighten water restrictions to maintain some of the current water levels. Our countries cannot continue to use water like we have. We do not endless supply of it.