Quantcast

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

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less

By Brian Barth

Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
(L) 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC

The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Austin Nuñez is Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which joined with the Hopi and Pascua Yaqui Tribes to fight a proposed open-pit copper mine on sacred sites in Arizona. Mamta Popat

By Alison Cagle

Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Navajo Nation has suffered from limited freshwater resources as a result of climate, insufficient infrastructure, and contamination. They collaborated with NASA to develop the Drought Severity Evaluation Tool. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.

Read More Show Less
Wild Exmoor ponies graze on a meadow in the Czech Republic. rapier / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Nanticha Ocharoenchai

In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.

Read More Show Less

Despite huge strides in improving the lives of children since 1989, many of the world's poorest are being left behind, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF warned Monday.

Read More Show Less