The “new normal” of water management across the United States suggests we need to consider the regions we live in are either heading into a drought or coming out of a drought. California is in a mega drought and most data indicates water is becoming more available. Georgia is heading into a drought.
For the past year things have been getting worse and according to the U.S. Drought Monitor today over 30% of the state is in a severe drought. This is nothing like the drought of 2008 when Atlanta was days away from running out of water, but as cycles go, they are headed into a drought and it’s hard to say when it will end. Ohio, who has been in a sports championship drought and moving out of it is headed into a water drought.
Here are the 5 natural and human causes of drought:
1) Land and water temperatures cause drought.
As overall temperatures increase more water evaporates and severe weather conditions increase. Landscapes and crops need more water to survive and overall the demand for water increases. This is why it is so important to consider changes in ET when discussing water savings. You might be using more water or less water depending on weather conditions.
2) Air circulation and weather patterns also cause drought.
Key events like El Nino or La Nina help contribute to drought in areas. All the water we ever had we have today and it is stored in the air or on land. Weather patterns move the water in the air around. This is constantly changing.
3) Soil moisture levels also contribute to drought.
When soil moisture is depleted there is less evaporation of water to create clouds. Surface temperatures rise, more water is needed and less is available which contributes to a more severe drought.
4) Drought can also be a supply and demand of water issue.
When a region is growing rapidly the demand for water can exceed the supply. When weather conditions, temperatures or air patterns push a region toward a drought the demand for water by people can offset or worsen the situation depending on how the region reacts. Excessive irrigation is an excellent of people contributing to a drought.
5) If the timing of water doesn’t match the agricultural season you may have too much water when you don’t need it and too little when you do need it.
Proper storage and collection of water is key to counter balancing this cycle and clearly in the scope of human management.
Severe droughts also impact the migration of people. As countries continue to protect their natural resources people will move to water. The amount and timing of the movement can contribute to water issues not previously felt before.