What is California's Daily Water Usage

USA: The southwest is drying up

Michael Unger on his report

There is a great drought in the southwest of the USA. Fields wither, reservoirs empty. All of this could be a dusty foretaste of the future of the vast region. Water has never been an everyday commodity in the US state that rains in abundance from the sky. Water has always been a competitive resource and, last but not least, a status symbol: Anyone who has a swimming pool in their garden, a lush green lawn in front of their door, washes their car on the street several times a week and spends their free time on one of the lavishly irrigated golf courses has made it. That could soon be over.

Our reporters Michael Unger and Thomas Vollherbst have found that the southwest of the USA has actually long been living above its water conditions. A new age of water saving should have begun long ago.

by Michael Unger, Thomas Vollherbst, Allen Stith and Anne Rigollet - ARTE GEIE - France 2016




Can California Still Be Saved?


Californians are said to use less water.

The drought in the Sunshine State now unites even the toughest political opponents: When the Democratic Governor Jerry Brown instructed the cities and towns in California in April 2015 to cut water consumption by 25 percent with immediate effect, Kevin McCarthy, spokesman for the opposition Republicans in the, seconded him California House of Representatives: "The governor's order shouldn't just alert the Californians. The entire nation should be aware that the most agriculturally productive state has ventured into uncharted territory."

Water consumption twice as high as in Germany

Consuming 25 percent less water sounds enormous, but nowhere in the world do people treat drinking water as wastefully as in California: The water authority reported a daily per capita consumption of 254 liters for December 2014, which is 25 percent less they are still at 190.5 liters per capita per day. In Germany, the per capita consumption is 120 liters. So there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Israeli technology against dehydration

Agriculture is so important to California economically that even the governor hardly dares to encourage it to conserve water. After all, some agricultural water suppliers have to submit drought management plans in which water reserves, consumption and planned savings are quantified.

In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed a treaty with Israel that allows Californians to use Israeli technology to fight the drought. This involves the reprocessing of wastewater, the optimization of consumption in agriculture and households, the replenishment of groundwater reserves and also the desalination of seawater. The latter is controversial among environmentalists, if only because of the high energy costs for desalination - and the water also has to be pumped or driven deep into the interior from the coast. There is no way around saving water if California is not to dry out completely.

Christophe Huber and Uwe Lothar Müller


Sources: Spiegel Online & Die Zeit