Californians Point to Big-Ag, Unrestrained Development as Drought Culprits

As residents adapt to recently imposed water restrictions and California’s historic drought continues, experts are closely examining the dry spell’s exacerbating factors—from thirsty agribusiness operations to unrestrained development—and saying a fundamental shift is in store for the Golden State.

In an analysis published Sunday, the New York Times suggests that the drought will “force a change in the way the state does business.”

“Much like the Gold Rush more than 150 years ago or the rise of Silicon Valley, the assumption of cheap and abundant water has been a crucial part of California’s identity, history and economy,” write Timesjournalists Adam Nagourney, Jack Healy, and Nelson D. Schwartz.

They continue:

And until recently, it seemed that the California dream was sustainable: booming cities, wide lawns in the suburbs, green golf courses in an otherwise parched landscape and, above all, a vibrant agricultural sector in places not much wetter than a desert.

But no longer.

According to the Times piece, “California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth,” the mandatory water restrictions announced by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday will bring about not just lifestyle adjustments but cultural change.

It argues that the “punishing drought—and the unprecedented measures the state announced last week to compel people to reduce water consumption—is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been this state’s driving engine has run against the limits of nature.”

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