Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wells Run Dry - California

Its most unsettling threat yet: It could run out of water by summer.

By ADAM NAGOURNEY


LAKE OF THE WOODS, California (The New York Times) –  People in this mountain town straddling the San Andreas Fault are used to scrapping for water. The lake for which it is named went dry 40 years ago. But now, this tiny community is dealing with its most unsettling threat yet: It could run out of water by summer.


Lake of the Woods, a small community north of Los Angeles, is running dry amid a deep California drought. A sign announces the town's water levels. Residents are changing water habits, but many worry about the future. Photo: Matt Black / The New York TimesAs of last week, just two of the five wells drilled into the dry lake bed that serve its 300 homes were producing water. The mountains of the nearby Los Padres National Forest got their first dusting of snow — and it was a light one — last week; it is the winter snow that feeds the wells come spring. People are watering trees with discarded dishwater, running the washing machine once a week, and letting their carefully tended beds of flowers and trees wither into patches of dusty dirt.

There are scenes all across California that illustrate the power of the drought. A haze of smog, which normally would be washed away by winter rains, hung over Los Angeles this week. Beekeepers near Sacramento said the lack of wildflowers has deprived bees of a source of food, contributing to a worrisome die-off. Across the rich farmland of the San Joaquin Valley, fields are going unplanted.
 


But for 17 small rural communities in California, the absence of rain is posing a fundamental threat to the most basic of services: drinking water. And Lake of the Woods, a middle-class enclave 80 miles from downtown Los Angeles, a mix of commuters, retirees and weekend residents, is one of the most seriously threatened. Signs along its dusty roadways offer stark red-on-white warnings of a “Water Emergency” and plead for conservation.  (Read More)

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