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Persistent droughts unlikely to end soon despite heavy winter rainfall

After several weeks of heavy rainfall due to an atmospheric river tearing across the state, many assume the current California drought has come to an end. However, even though heavy rainfall is a supporting factor to ending the state-wide drought, AP Environmental Science teacher Nicole Loomis said the struggle is far from over. 

Loomis said droughts are not new to California and the recent rain storms do not mean the current drought is over. 

“A drought won’t end with one year of good rainfall levels,” Loomis said. “There are many aspects to our water supply in California (like) snowpack in the Sierras, reservoirs and groundwater.”

According to Loomis, reservoir and snowpack levels are up, but the concern for California is groundwater levels. According to California Groundwater Live, groundwater accounts for 40% of California’s total annual water supply in normal years and almost 60% in drought years.

Because of the (large) proportion of groundwater, Loomis said especially if a drought has lasted for several years, it can take several years to reverse it.

“Groundwater levels will take years of average to above-average precipitation to recover,” Loomis said. 

Vice-president of Paly Project Eco, which focuses on spreading awareness of environmental conservation, senior Catie Nudelman said students need to seek out information about the environment to be properly educated on relevant climate issues. 

“Students do not get sufficient education on climate issues aside from what is in the media, or if you enroll in a specific class on campus like AP Environmental Science,” Nudelman said. “I didn’t know much about climate issues until taking APES which makes me think a lot of students are in the dark about the environmental problems affecting our world today.”

Loomis said there are small things students and their families can do to help with California’s water supply.

“Check for leaks in your irrigation and fix them immediately,” Loomis said. “Install water-saving shower heads and faucet heads, (which) you can usually get these for free from your local water district.”

Not only is it important to act immediately, but senior Jade Minskoff, founder of Project Eco, said being consistent in maintaining environmentally-conscious habits can make lasting differences. 

“Think about shorter showers, not watering your yard’s grass as much or at all and not leaving your faucet on when you’re brushing your teeth,” Minskoff said. 

Regardless of what people do, Nudelman said everyone should make lifestyle changes for the sake of California’s future. 

“Although we have gotten a significant amount of rain, it is important to not cause another drought with excessive water consumption,” Nudelman said. “It is still important to be cautious with our water usage since it is such a vital resource for all of us.”

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