Barack Obama pledges millions in drought aid to California
The state is one of the world’s largest agricultural regions, with a $45bn farming industry that produces almost half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the US
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Friday 14 February 2014
The Obama administration has announced a package of more than $200m (£120m) in drought aid to California, to help farmers and others affected by the state’s driest spell since records began. Some scientists fear that the so-called mega-drought in this corner of the US South-west could last as long as 200 years.
President Barack Obama touched down in Fresno, California, today to meet with farmers and witness the worst effects of the drought on the state’s densely agricultural San Joaquin Valley. The White House pledge includes some $150m for livestock farmers, $60m for food banks and another $5m to go towards water conservation projects.
California is one of the world’s largest agricultural regions, with a $45bn farming industry that produces almost half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the US. Agriculture uses around 80 per cent of the state’s water, and any severe water shortage could have a massive impact on the nation’s food supply.
In 2013, less rain fell on California than in any year since it became a state in 1850: just 7.48 inches (19 cm). The region’s rivers and reservoirs have sunk lower than ever before. Southern California’s water sources include the snowpack from the Sierra Nevada mountains, which is at 20 per cent of its normal average for this time of year.
Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, urging residents to cut their own water use voluntarily by 20 per cent, and asking state agencies to hire more fire-fighters to combat an epidemic of wildfires. In January, the California Department of Forestry was called to more than 400 fires. The average number in the previous five January's was 69.
According to the California Department of Public Health, up to 17 of the state’s small rural communities could face severe water shortages in less than 100 days’ time. That’s a fate that may eventually await the region’s major cities and the industries they sustain: farming, film, technology.
Technically, a mega-drought is any drought that lasts longer than two decades. But scientists familiar with the long-term climate patterns of the region say California might have to prepare itself for far longer than 20 years without sufficient rain. The state’s infrastructure was largely designed in the 20th Century, when the region may have been abnormally damp.
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...