Wildlife Feels Impact of California's Water Crisis

Carly Fiorina, who may run for president as a Republican, blames California’s drought on "liberal environmentalists," because some water has been reserved for wildlife.

Yes, thousands of plant and animals species also need water and fish actually live in it. California wildlands are dry as a bone.

"Liberal environmentalists have prevented the building of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades during a period in which California’s population has doubled," Fiorina says.

Last year, House Republicans passed legislation that would have overrided California’s decision to allow its wildlands to retain some water. Under the bill, water would be pumped all the way from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California. Had it passed the Senate, President Obama said he would veto it. 

Resident Orca Whales Could Disappear

As one example, let’s take Orca Whales. How could they be affected by drought?

Whale Orca

Southern Resident Orcas live between Washington’s Puget Sound and California’s Monterrey Bays, eating mostly delta smelt fish and Chinook salmon. As of spring 2014, their were only 80 individuals because of decades of captures for marine park exhibitions. With both smelt and salmon in trouble, that puts remaining whales in great jeopardy. 

There’s not enough water for smelt or salmon because so much has been diverted from San Francisco Bay’s delta over the years to supply the southern part of the state. The drought has taken it to the limit. 

Every animal is suffering. The intense dryness also makes wildfires more likely, as a well as invasive plants and insects, which gobble up more forests. 

Thanks to California’s progressive values, changes could happen quickly: farmers are switching to efficient irrigation; municipalities and businesses are investing in recycling water, and homeowners are planting native plants that love dry conditions instead of lawns.

Many winegrowers switched to sustainable practices years ago and are now working the Nature Conservancy to make sure enough water remains for coho salmon and steelhead trout. Wildlife managers are helping rice farmers restore floodplains to help the dwindling Chinook salmon, reports NRDC.

But in this dry new world, "we will experience extinction events for some species," as early as this year, says Brian Stranko, who directs the Nature Conversancy’s water program in California.

Read, From Boom to Bust? Climate Risk in the Golden State, the latest report from Risky Business:

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Comments on “Wildlife Feels Impact of California's Water Crisis”

  1. Zomby Poet

    Blame is fine. How about some fixing:

    Stop all new construction in California. Require builders to come up with an independent source of water in order to be able to build. They can purify polluted water or desalinate seawater or get water by whatever legal means necessary but they cannot tap into existing fresh water supplies.

    The builders will solve it to make money.

    All government installations in California–especially military bases–should be required to retrofit their waste water systems to collect gray water, filter it and use it to flush toilets and water the landscape. No fresh water should ever be used by any government agency to flush toilets or water lawns.

    Builders should also be required to institute gray water collection and recycling into their designs.

    There should be no such thing as agricultural runoff. All farmers should be required to capture and recycle all water used in farming.

    No rain water should ever be allowed to reach the sea. It should all be captured, filtered and used for agriculture, to flush toilets or if it can be purified enough to augment the water supply.

    California’s wealthy should live off salt water alone. They have the wealth to pay for the desalination. They need to impress us with their wealth and their concern for others.

    –California Water: Better Drunk than Wasted!


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