by Larry Wood
five-letter word is one that
Californians see almost daily in headlines.
How to dam it, how to sell it, how to
use it, how to share it, how to keep it pure.... these are just a few
of the major problems that face California's people and political
Thousands of dollars are spent annually
on studies, and on lawsuits
in California's "Water Wars", and the
seemingly endless conflict between the overwhelming
needs of Central
and Southern California, and their drain on Northern California rivers.
California has what has been called "the
biggest waterworks in history". Dams
in the Sierra Nevada mountains
hold back water provided by great rivers fed by rain and snowmelt; they
raging rivers, help prevent damaging floods, generate cheap,
pollution-free hydro-electricity, and release a steady supply of water
for California's citizens.
California's great cities get their
water via an immense network of dams, aqueducts, pipelines and wells
that is one of the engineering wonders of the world. Part of the water
supply for the Los Angeles area comes from a 445-mile long canal
running south from the "Delta" area of Northern California. During its
long journey, the water is pumped up a 3000 ft. elevation, then enters
a tunnel through the mountains, before reaching the Los Angeles area.
More water for this thirsty area is brought in along the Colorado River
Aqueduct, over a distance of 185 miles; and the City of Los Angeles
also takes water from a place called Owens Valley, 338 miles away!
Even the city of San Francisco, in cooler
California, has long-distance water, its supply being carried almost
150 miles from an artificial lake in Yosemite National Park.
as this interlocking system
is, in years ahead it is
going to be inadequate to handle the state's rapidly growing
population. The prospect
of major water problems in the near future has
become particularly alarming.
Many California farmers
have already had to abandon crops on account of water shortages during
recent dry summers; and in many towns and cities, the sprinklers that
traditionally keep the lawns
green round suburban homes have been
turned off. .
As if dry summers and growing needs were
not enough problems
already, Californians also have problems getting water from outside
their state. For instance, the Colorado river.provides water to several
states, and also to Indian reservations, and there has been a lot of
argument about water rights. In 2003, the state of California agreed to
take a smaller quota of water from the Colorado River - partly to allow
the state of Nevada to have more, on account of the dramatic increase
in needs of the city of Las Vegas.
One of the most
serious environmental problems was that
of Mono Lake. In 1989, California's State Legislature voted
million to find alternatives to save Mono Lake from evaporating in the
desert sun of Eastern California. Since then, the depletion of this
unique environmentally-sensitive lake has been reversed, and though the
water level today is still some 35 ft. below the natural
recorded back in 1941, it is now 10 feet higher than it was at its
lowest point, in 1982.
Since the year 2000, California has had
a series of drought
with below normal rainfall. Emergency water conservation ordinances
have made lawns turn brown, cars and sidewalks get dirty. Violators of
the ordinances have had their water supply cut to a trickle
a city which does not even meter how much water its residents use, the
have already run dry..
Water conservation measures are
part of the answer; but political analysts predict that it will require
many years and some serious and unattractive lifestyle changes to
resolve California's Water Wars. The tense competition
for a scarce resource, among groups with conflicting interests, will
: a very small flow
- period with no rain or very little rain
very small flow
: hole in the ground from which
water is taken
2009 from an article in Spectrum magazine, by Larry Wood.
Wood first wrote this article in 1989, the problem has got
Larry Wood is a prizewinning freelance environmental
journalist, based in California.
for the Firefox
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ADVANCED ENGLISH - STUDENT
California's Water Wars - Exercises:
Produce projects for authentic documents (in
English) for distribution to the public. Try to achieve maximum realism
this task. .
Fill in the blanks in this extract from
the text, using the qualifiers (adjectives, etc.) listed:
alarming / artificial / cheap / cooler / engineering / great / growing
/ immense / inadequate / interlocking / long-distance / mammoth / major
/ near / particularly / pollution-free / rapidly / thirsty / water (2)
/ 445-mile long / 3000 ft. / of 185 miles / 338 miles away.
California's ______________ cities get their water via an
______________ network of dams, aqueducts, pipelines and wells that is
one of the ______________ wonders of the world. Part of the
______________ supply for the Los Angeles area comes from a
______________ long canal running south from the "Delta" area of
Northern California. During its ______________ journey, the water is
pumped up a ______________ elevation, then enters a tunnel through the
mountains, before reaching the Los Angeles area. More water for this
______________ area is brought in along the Colorado River Aqueduct,
over a distance ______________ ; and the City of Los Angeles also takes
water from a place called Owens Valley, ______________ !
Even the city of San Francisco, in ______________ Northern
California, has ______________ water, its supply being carried almost
150 miles from an ______________ lake in Yosemite National Park.
Yet ______________ as this
______________ system is,
in years ahead it is going to be ______________ to handle the state's
______________ ______________ population. The prospect of
______________ ______________ problems in the ______________ future has
become ______________ ______________ .
Write down the potential consequences of
patterns, both direct and indirect. Draw up a
contingency plan for your area, should your own water supply be