With each passing year, it’s becoming clear that the climate is changing more drastically and quickly than ever before. And one region that’s bearing the brunt of this change? The American West, which is facing an escalating crisis known as the aridification of the west.
This term might sound unfamiliar to some, but if you’re living in the Western US or following the climate news, you’re likely seeing the effects of it first-hand.
At bluebot, we’re headquartered in Northern California and have seen this outbreak stretch across The Golden State, even down to the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. We’ve seen cities and counties enforce strict water-use restrictions because of this crisis.
And we want to help. Because at bluebot, we’re passionate about reducing water stress by making the world’s water use dramatically more efficient.
That’s why we wrote this blog – to run through both the causes and effects of the aridification of the west, and show you how you can join the solution.
So if you’re ready to face this issue head-on and discover how you can play your part, keep reading.
Aridification of the West: What's the Big Deal?
So, what’s all the fuss about the aridification of the west?
Well, it’s not just a case of the West becoming slightly drier. Aridification refers to a shift in climate towards increasingly dry conditions.
And when we say dry, we’re talking about serious, long-lasting drought conditions that have profound implications for the environment and communities.
The Root Causes
While we’re not scientists here at bluebot, we do have a team of technicians, engineers, software developers, and flow measurement experts with 35+ years in flow technology.
We’ve studied the conditions that cause people to use more water than they should and the technology it takes to accurately measure and monitor your water usage during these times.
That said, there are two main factors that are believed to contribute to the aridification of the west – climate change and human activities.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into these causes.
The Climate Change Connection
Climate change and global warming, as many scientists argue, appear to be altering the world’s weather patterns. Rising temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, and decreased snowpack are all cited as potential factors that might contribute to greater aridity in the west.
In addition to natural changes, human activities are also suggested to play a role. Certain practices such as agriculture and industry, along with the extensive use of water resources, might be inadvertently contributing to the drying conditions seen in the west.
The Long-Term Impacts of Aridification
While it’s easy to see (and feel) how we’re affected by the California drought in the short term, the long-term impacts of the aridification of the west can be pretty serious.
Let’s unpack the list of environmental and societal consequences of an increasingly dry climate.
Growth of Food
An extremely dry climate cannot support the growth of food. An episodic drought in California may mean that the land isn’t able to support the demand for foods like lettuce, almonds, or tomatoes, all commonly grown in the Central Valley of California. When our farmers can’t grow food in the region, both the demand and the price increase.
Intensified Climate Change
When a climate becomes increasingly arid over time, it’s unable to support the growth of trees and other plant life. Since trees capture CO2 and return oxygen into the atmosphere, aridification speeds up existing concern of climate change and the intensified weather patterns that come along with it.
When there’s no shade or cover from the plant life, a tree’s intertwined root system struggles to hold soil together and causes erosion. And when it does rain, this puts places like California at higher risk for flood damage.
Migration and Extinction of Wildlife
Trees and vegetation provide a home food source to thousands of species across the Western United States. When those habitats and food chains no longer exist due to extreme dry conditions, the animals become extinct or are forced to move to another location.
Decline in River Water Level
Another significant long-term impact of aridification is the changes in our river basins, notably the Colorado River and Rio Grande. As the West gets drier, less water is available to feed these rivers and basins. Over time, this dwindling water supply not only disrupts aquatic ecosystems but also affects the millions of people who rely on these rivers for drinking water, irrigation, and recreation.
How to be a Part of the Solution
So, what can we do to counteract the aridification of the west? How do you conserve water during the California drought (or other states across the country)?
Tip #1 - Follow the US Drought Monitor
We believe that by 2025, roughly half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas, including parts of the US. That’s why it’s super important to pay attention to how the drought changes over time.
This gradient map is a great resource that shows the different climate models across North America and where each state is affected the most. We suggest bookmarking that page and staying up to date on it so you’re in the know.
Because when you’re in the know, you can better understand the severity of the situation and make more informed decisions about water usage.
Tip #2 - Know Your State's Water Restrictions
As we pointed out earlier, when regions experience signs of aridification, state and local governments begin enforcing water restrictions.
To stay up to date with these restrictions, you can usually find them online by searching “[your state] water boards/planning”. So if you were looking for information on the California drought, you would visit the California Water Board’s website.
Understanding these restrictions and adhering to these rules will allow you to actively reduce water waste and contribute to the overall goal of water conservation.
Tip #3 - Invest in Smart Water Monitoring
One of the biggest game-changers to help counteract the aridification of the west is to invest in smart water monitoring technology. And more specifically, a bluebot smart water meter.
Yes, it’s our smart water meter, but we’ve seen how big of a difference our devices can make. Like when they helped the University of the Nations campus save $3.5 million in water management. Or how they help users reduce water usage and costs by an average of 30%.
bluebot’s easy clamp-on design, non-invasive installation, and universal compatibility make it the most convenient smart water meter on the market. Perfect for property/water managers and business owners, commercial and industry managers, farmers and agriculture use, homeowners and associations, and more.
Click here to learn more about how bluebot can help you take control of your water usage and save on your water bill.
Whether you choose to use a bluebot or not, when you invest in smart water monitoring, you can accurately track and reduce your water consumption, thereby conserving this precious resource in times of shortage.
The aridification of the west is a serious and complex issue with profound implications for the environment, agriculture, and society. It’s about time we paid it the attention it deserves.
While the challenge may seem overwhelming, there’s still hope if we act swiftly and wisely.
By embracing sustainable practices, raising awareness about the issue, and turning to smart water monitoring systems, we can make strides towards mitigating the effects of aridification and ensuring a sustainable future for not only the West, but also the rest of the world.
Aridification is a process where a region becomes increasingly dry, transitioning towards desert-like conditions, often due to climate change and unsustainable human activities. This leads to long-term droughts and significant environmental consequences.
Aridification can reduce water availability for irrigation which in turn can lead to reduced crop yields, impacting farmers’ livelihoods and the overall economy.
Individuals can help by staying up to date on drought data and local water restrictions, supporting sustainable agricultural practices, and investing in smart water monitoring systems like the bluebot smart water meter.
Yes, areas with already low rainfall and high evaporation rates, like Southern California and Las Vegas, are particularly susceptible to aridification.
Aridification can reduce the availability of water and food sources for wildlife, leading to a decrease in biodiversity and potential disruption of ecosystems.