The ongoing drought in the United States has ties to La Nina, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologists say. La Nina is a weather pattern that consists of an abnormal cooling of the Pacific Ocean that brings dry conditions to the southwestern United States and Mexico. La Nina has been linked to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the dry spells in the Southwest of the 1950s and the drought from 1998-2002. See 5 ways water shortages may impact commerce
According to a CNNMoney report, the U.S. drought is hampering oil production. States affected by the drought are suffering from water shortages even while standing in the midst of an energy boom in the form of hydraulic fracking, a process which can get oil and natural gas from underground. However, fracking requires a lot of water, and companies are having difficulty acquiring it. Ultimately it means wells may have to be put on hold. A poll from the Civil Society Institute suggests that three out of four Americans think that with current concerns about drought and the risk of water shortages, America needs to focus more on alternative energy sources such as wind and solar.
In his weekly address on Aug. 11, President Barack Obama announced that the government opened up more federal land for grazing, is working with crop insurance companies to give famers a short grace period on their premiums and have announced an additional $30 million to help get more water to livestock and to restore land affected by the drought. Obama also encouraged citizens to press for Congress to pass the farm bill. The House passed a drought relief measure on August 2, but the Senate failed to vote on it before leaving for recess. The Senate passed its own bill, but it has not come to the floor in the House.
Water shortages have added a monetary burden to farmers, with individuals being forced to haul water to their land in order to keep their businesses alive. According to a Washington Post article, Cimeron Frost of Illinois is spending about $420 a week to haul 4,000 gallons of water to his pasture for his 300 cows to drink. In his weekly address on Aug. 11, President Barack Obama announced an additional $30 million in funding to help get more water to livestock and to restore land affected by the drought.
According to a recent NPR report, cities in states like Texas, Nebraska, North Dakota and Massachusetts are limiting how much water residents and businesses are allowed to use. Greg Kail with the American Water Works Association said its likely hundreds of utilities across the country are using water restrictions and soon even more will be mandatory. "As water restrictions spread, so does the pain," said Rachel Otwell. "In Decatur (Illinois), stricter measures include a ban on car washing. for Dawn Grandon, who works at a commercial car wash, that means the end of her job."
Joe Whitworth, and American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow, writes at The Huffington Post that exporting water from the United States seems like a good idea - until the country has a drought. There isn't a water supply problem, Whitworth says, but there is a water management problem. Consumers need to understand their water footprints and reward water-efficient goods, while producers need to squeeze more crop-per-drop and regulators need to support and incentivize agriculture to add to the blue infrastructure.