California Tightens Drought Rules as Water Supply Dwindles to One Year

1. Article MLA Citation

ICTMN Staff. "California Tightens Drought Rules as Water Supply Dwindles to One Year." Indian Country Today Media N.p., 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

2. Summary Paragraph

The news of California's lower-than-normal water supply was announced to the public just yesterday.  A NASA scientist has declared that California has only one year of water left for its population--much less than the twenty-something years that the FLOW film claimed we had.  We are nearing the end of what is usually a "wet and rainy" season, yet the occasional drizzle has done little to alleviate California's water issue.  Jay Famiglietti, the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, stated that “January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too."  This pressing issue has led the State Water Resources Control Board to tighten water restrictions and extend those that were implemented last year.  "California residents and business owners may not wash down sidewalks and driveways; water outdoor landscapes in a way that causes runoff; wash cars with a hose that does not have a shutoff nozzle; operate fountains that are not fed by a recirculating system, and may not irrigate turf or ornamental landscapes while it’s raining and for 48 hours afterward."  Famiglietti (the NASA scientist), however, has implied that his is not enough, and has stressed that further actions must be taken, including immediate mandatory water rationing to preserve our backup groundwater supply.  He is also recommending an accelerated implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, which mandates the creation of regional groundwater sustainability agencies within the next two years.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is considering waiting to put these measures into effect until the summer, but according to Famiglietti, by the time summer rolls around there may not be any groundwater left to sustain.  The state has been on the verge of implementing mandatory water rationing before, but the water supply has always been saved by a sudden increase of snow and rainfall.  As we've learned, however, modern global warming is making the chances of "getting saved" increasingly slim, and such measures may need to be taken.

3. What ethical issue does the article raise? What makes the event / action just or unjust?

The ethical question concerns the water rationing measures that are being pushed by the NASA scientist.  Water rationing means that the water supply will be strictly controlled by the government and agencies such as the State Water Resources Control Board.  Water rationing means that the tap water that we have always counted on being in our faucets 24/7 will not always be there for us, and that the government and agencies could technically be seen as "owning" the natural resource that we all depend on.  Is it ethical to disallow people water due to low storages, when importing water from other areas is a possible issue?

4. Discuss your position, and pose a question for reflection and discussion

The question is this: do these companies have the right to deny water, our natural right, to people who need/want it as a result of dwindling supply, or are they ethically required to import it for our leisure?  Do they have the right to ration water for millions of people?  My position is that these measures need to be taken, period.  Even if it is unethical to deny people water on occasion, it is more unethical to continue to abuse our water supply for our unnecessary needs and allow the plant and animal species to suffer for it, in addition to the future generations that must live with strict water rationing.  We know that Americans use more water on a daily basis than everyone else; we use nearly twelve times the daily amount that is recommended for human survival.  We need to take into account all of the stakeholders in this issue, and I believe that strict water rationing is called for.