Triple-Digit Temperatures Accelerating Evaporation Of Critical Water Resources – CBS Sacramento

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — This heatwave is bad news for an already bad drought in California.

Scientists say triple-digit temperatures that last days on end are evaporating water from critical resources.

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Dr. Jay Lund with the UC Davis Civil and Environmental Engineering department said this year is one of the warmest droughts on record.

“It wants to evaporate off of the soils, off of mountains, off of the reservoirs, off of the hill slopes as the snow is melting,” Lund said.

Lund said data from previous droughts show heat waves can make conditions up to 25 percent worse than they would have been otherwise.

“If it’s as dry this year as it is next year, which is highly unusual but it’s possible, you’ll probably see much more mandatory water conservation for city,” Lund said.

UC David Environmental Policy Professor Mark Lubell thinks restrictions could come sooner.

“The lesson we learned from the last drought, I don’t see why we don’t apply that right now,” he said.

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He’s talking about mandatory statewide water conservation restrictions. A couple of smaller water districts in Northern California have already done this, some encouraging people to report wasteful neighbors.

A study by University of Wisconsin Madison researchers showed water waste complaints actually do increase conservation and can help manage a drought emergency.

“If people know that their neighbors are looking, that they could be reported it makes it less likely that they’re going to engage in that type of free-riding behavior,” Lubell said.

California is familiar with a culture of drought cooperation. Lubell said a lot of lessons were learned since the 2012 drought.

“There’s some level of permanent change in water use efficiency that came from that,” he said.

But the battle is far from over.

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“We’re certainly going to see some more problems from these heatwaves. It’s going to take more water from the forests and the ecosystems and the reservoirs a bit,” Lund said.

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