California Water Resources Essay

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California Water

Water Resources in California

The California state water system has a plethora of interesting features and dynamics that are complex and the hydrology continues to evolve. Although there have been massive projects to harness the water in the state and deliver to the areas that need it, such as urban or agricultural centers, there have been many consequences to these actions. The water is steadily degrading throughout the entire system and the construction of the system itself has caused many environmental problems as well as the loss of natural habitats; in fact, roughly ninety-five percent of the state's wetlands have already been lost -- forever. Furthermore, one of the most alarming factors is that the system of California's water distribution system has been built on a precipitation model that is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Climate change is predicted to heavily influence these patterns in the future and the entire water distribution system may have to be altered to meet these challenges.

Background on California's Hydrologic Cycle

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The term hydrology refers to the science that encompasses the occurrence, distribution, movement, and properties of the earth's waters, and their relationship with the environment within each phase of the hydrologic cycle[footnoteRef:1]. The hydrologic cycle begins with evaporation as heat changes liquid water into gas, and ends in condensation as it cools and returns to the earth. The precipitation becomes runoff and collects in some body of water depending on where it flows. Much of the water will eventually end up in an aquifer which is an underwater storage area for water. [1: (Hyslop and Wu 141)]

Essay on California Water Resources in California Assignment

California's statewide participation is approximately 58 centimeters which equals 200 million acre-feet of water that is dropped however this is not distributed equally across the state. Approximately seventy five percent of the runoff goes north of Sacramento[footnoteRef:2]. The 78 maf that occurs on a yearly average is used for environmental (46%) uses, agricultural uses (46%), and urban use (11%). However, this figure is only an average and can fluctuate considerably throughout the years. One of the primary factors that influence these levels is periods of drought in which rainfall does not meet the average levels. Floods on the other hand can be caused by excess rainfall that can cause a significant amount of damage as the runoff is too much to be absorbed and causes impromptu rivers and streams that can damage natural and human structures. Too little waterfall can result in dry conditions in which wildfires can occur. The level of water fall is vital to California's well-being. [2: (Hyslop and Wu 144)]

Figure 1 - CA Hydrologic Cycle (Garver)

California's Hydrology

The Central Valley contains three hydrologic regions. In the north end of the state, the Sacramento River Region drains the northern half of the Central Valley, which still represents a major agricultural area. The Sacramento River carries almost a third of the entire state's runoff and receives most of its runoff from the west slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The next region is the San Joaquin River Region which is bounded by the Coast Ranges and the Sierra Nevada crest which relies heavily on groundwater for argricultural and other uses.

The North Coast Region is in the northwest corner and receives over 250 cm of rain per year which results in the rivers and streams in this region collecting almost half of the state's runoff. The Central Coast Region covers almost three hundred million hectares and only contains roughly four percent of the state's population;… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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