Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

5 Signs the Historic Drought Is Getting Much Worse

Climate

The drought is bad. Really bad. While the water catastrophe is usually associated with California, many other water-pinched states are also reeling from this historic drought. Here are five ways the devastating drought has affected lives, rural towns and even fish populations the American West.

Severe drought has caused lethal conditions for fish. About 50 dead sockeye salmon, infected with gill rot disease associated with warm water, were found this week in the Deschutes River.  
Photo credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1. It's reached Portland. While fairing better than its neighbors, the entire state of Oregon is feeling some degree of drought, including normally wet Portland. The city is experiencing a moderate drought for the first time due to its "abnormally hot and dry conditions" this summer, OPB reported. “Washington had their warmest and third driest June ever, and Oregon was warmest and seventh driest,” Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Monitor, told OPB. “A lot has happened in June, on top of a warm and fairly snow-free winter.”

2. The West Nile virus is spreading. California, now in its fourth year of drought, is seeing numbers of the mosquito-borne disease. There were 801 reported human cases of West Nile virus in the state last year, with 31 people who succumbed to the disease, the Los Angeles Times reported. And according to the San Jose Mercury News, 152 dead birds and 348 mosquito samples across the state have also tested positive for the virus already this year.

Scientists suspect that rising temperatures and drought have exacerbated conditions in the parched state, since the dwindling number of watering holes have brought mosquitoes and birds into closer contact. "The lack of water can cause some sources of water to stagnate, thus making the water sources more attractive for mosquitoes to lay eggs," Gil Chavez, deputy director of the California Department of Public Health, told the Mercury News.

Read page 1

3. The poor are relying on water bottles and drinking toxic water. As wells and groundwater dry up due to the ongoing drought and nearby agricultural and mining operations, some families in California’s rural San Joaquin and Coachella valleys have (for years) been subsisting on bottled water and consuming potentially hazardous levels of arsenic-laden water, The Washington Post reported. While county officials and local nonprofit groups such as Coachella’s Pueblo Unido are finding ways to generate potable water for their communities, the efforts are expensive and only temporary.

4. Seattle isn't getting any rain. The typically rain-soaked city hasn't seen more than a tenth of an inch of rain in 42 days, according to local news affiliate KIRO 7. (Fingers crossed that El Nino brings much-needed reprieve to the West).

Making matters worse, local firefighters have warned that the lack of rain caused by drought is only causing homes to light up faster. "Just like the brush that's around the area [referring to a mobile home that burned down at Empire View Mobile Home Park], homes are also starting to dry up,” Dave Nelson, public information officer for Skyway Fire Department told the news station.

5. River fish are dying from heat and disease. Record low snowpacks and record high temperatures have caused low-flowing, extra-warm rivers this summer, leading to salmon and trout deaths. As the Associated Press reported, a Wild Fish Conservancy survey of 54 rivers in Oregon, California and Washington revealed that three-quarters were warmer than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that could be fatal for salmon and trout. In fact, "scores" of dead salmon were found in the Willamette River in June, and about 50 dead sockeye salmon, infected with gill rot disease associated with warm water, were found this week in the Deschutes River, the news agency reported.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

5 Celebrities Busted as Part of #DroughtShaming

300+ Wildfires Rage in Alaska

Is Climate Change to Blame for Increased Number of Shark Attacks?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Anderson Community Group. Left to right, Caroline Laur, Anita Foust, the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, and Bill Compton, came together to fight for environmental justice in their community. Anderson Community Group

By Isabella Garcia

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.

Read More Show Less
Berber woman cooks traditional flatbread using an earthen oven in her mud-walled village home located near the historic village of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco, Africa on Jan. 4, 2016. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. /NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg and Jason Flatt

The world's Indigenous Peoples face severe and disproportionate rates of food insecurity. While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5 percent of the world's population, they account for 15 percent of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.

Read More Show Less
Danny Choo / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Olivia Sullivan

One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.

Read More Show Less
A mostly empty 110 freeway toward downtown Los Angeles, California on April 28, 2020. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The shelter in place orders that brought clean skies to some of the world's most polluted cities and saw greenhouse gas emissions plummet were just a temporary relief that provided an illusory benefit to the long-term consequences of the climate crisis. According to new research, the COVID-19 lockdowns will have a "neglible" impact on global warming, as Newshub in New Zealand reported.

Read More Show Less
Centrosaurus apertus was a plant-eating, single-horned dinosaur that lived 76 to 77 million years ago. Sergey Krasovskiy / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Scientists have discovered and diagnosed the first instance of malignant cancer in a dinosaur, and they did so by using modern medical techniques. They published their results earlier this week in The Lancet Oncology.

Read More Show Less
Parks keep people happy in times of global crisis, economic shutdown and public anger. NPS

By Joe Roman and Taylor Ricketts

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is the deepest and longest period of malaise in a dozen years. Our colleagues at the University of Vermont have concluded this by analyzing posts on Twitter. The Vermont Complex Systems Center studies 50 million tweets a day, scoring the "happiness" of people's words to monitor the national mood. That mood today is at its lowest point since 2008 when they started this project.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The ubiquity of guns and bullets poses environmental risks. Contaminants in bullets include lead, copper, zinc, antimony and mercury. gorancakmazovic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she will attempt to dismantle the National Rifle Association (NRA), arguing that years of corruption and mismanagement warrant the dissolution of the activist organization, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less