The entire United States faces the threat of a shortage of food because of the severe drought in California, the state which meets about a third of the country’s food needs.
The farmlands of California are irrigated by diverted rivers and streams that are filled yearly with runoff from the Sierra Nevada snowpack and by pumping of groundwater as well through some other less-reliable methods. But, the snowpack is disappearing fast.
The cruel drought is now in its third year. In California’s central valley – which is home to a majority of the state’s agricultural output – farmers are leaving hundreds of thousands of acres fallow.
In April 2009, a series of spring showers and storms had raised the snowpack to 80% of normal, but, at the beginning of May, it fell to 66%, compared to 72% the year before.
Matters have been complicated by the recent federal directives requiring reductions of water deliveries to farmers and urban users of California by 5% to 7% – this was done hoping to preserve the Pacific Coast’s salmon fishery.
And, salmon fishery, like the Sierra Nevada snowpack, is on the verge of extinction.