What You Need To Know About The Water Crisis On The West Coast

The West Coast is facing a dire drought situation that's affecting citizens, property holders, and public officials. For context, a lot of the rules governing water rights go back a century or more, according to CNN. Today, there is less water to go around and more pressure on the system, thanks in part to worsening environmental conditions. Water rights attorney Nathan Metcalf said, "It's an old water system that many perceive isn't set up to deal with current climatic and hydraulic conditions. It's just not really set up to deal with climate change and the changing needs for water both from an environmental standpoint, and then there's also the rub between agriculture and municipal." States like California need to find new ways to allocate the precious supply of water and figure out how it can be distributed fairly.

The effects of the water shortage include power shortages and certain salmon runs nearing extinction, per Desert Sun. These drastic effects are reportedly taking hold because commercial farms have been taking up to 80% of the state's managed water – meanwhile, cities only receive 10-13%. Californians know this well – they're often hit with very strict water use guidelines. As the state faces the worst drought in 1,200 years, something has to change.

The government steps in to restrict water usage

California Democrats want to devote "$7.5 billion in state and federal funds" to creating a more robust water system, CNN reports. Their proposal includes plans to lessen water use in some areas, increase access to clean drinking water, and produce healthier fish habitats. The bill may face issues in the legislature because it involves taking water from private property for public use.

Cities across California are implementing more water usage guidelines after Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order that strengthened restrictions on water use. In San Diego, according to KPBS, people are barred from washing cars at home. Recycled water must be used "for construction purposes" if available. Landscape irrigation can only occur at certain times a day, and the number of days per week is capped. There are also rules regarding which types of hoses can be used for irrigating private property. In Santa Monica, residents will only be able to irrigate their yards twice per week, per SMDP.

It's not just California that's trying to outrun the drought. It is one of seven states that received a 60-day deadline to curtail their usage of Colorado River water before the federal government steps in to regulate, per Politico. Arizona and California could face the most dramatic cuts. People across the United States might see the effects of the drought while shopping. Per AccuWeather, grocery prices will rise amid the drought as crops become more expensive to maintain.