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tv   Jennifer Yachnin  CSPAN  June 17, 2022 2:28am-2:41am EDT

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continues. host: we are joined by jennifer with e&e news to talk about the
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severe drought and water shortage conditions happening particularly in the u.s. but elsewhere in the united states as well. good morning. guest: thanks for having me. host: on the articles we are reading from you, "u.s. drought worst in a millennium and it could get worse." how do scientists judge the drought over a time like this? what measures did they use? guest: great question. some of the surveys we've seen and the last couple of months take a look at a few things, preserved ancient tree rings. they use those to figure out what precipitation was like, what the water in a basin region was like, and we first saw a steady amount that the 2022 drought we are in is the worst in 1200 years. because of this additional
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survey from the bureau of reclamation, they looked at things like collection from bogs and lakes and they determined there had been a worse period around 280. in -- 200 a.d. water levels are low but they have been worse which might help water managers know if it can get worse. host: tell us, the factors that are driving this historic mega drought in the west. guest: one of those things is a writ of case and -- arid ification. that means we are not in a drought but drying things out permanently, less rain, less snow pack which produces the runoff in the west which is how
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reservoirs get filled. host: the u.s. drought monitor map is ongoing showing where the u.s. drought is. this map released as of june 9, 2022 and for our radio listeners, things pretty much east of iowa into the planes -- plains and mountain west, things are looking severe. where does this compare to from a year ago? guest: the drought has been pretty persistent for about 22 years. things have been getting not worse but there is a weather pattern called la niña and one of the things it does is create warmer temperatures and less precipitation. that's one reason we will not see any relief from this drought in the next few months. host: there was a hearing on capitol hill among the hearings they have done recently, about
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the drought in the u.s. west. what can lawmakers do at this point on a federal level to address the drought conditions in the west? guest: this is a great question. there were a lot of ideas thrown around yesterday and there are things that sort of go from the fantastic to the practical. the fantastic end of things, these questions are always around about couldn't we just build a pipeline for water around the country? and there are other ideas, things like going and trying to do what nevada has been good at, california to some extent as well as colorado, and people to take outdoor landscaping that is not appropriate, so bluegrass lawns are super thirsty and can be replaced by more arid plants
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that don't require as much water. with all of that in mind, the bureau of reclamation has to sit down over the next few months with -- over the colorado basin, including seven states and mexico. that agency has to sit down and figure out how to cut the band, where it can pull back water without impacting one of those seven states more than another. that's something that's going to be really tough to do because as the reclamation commissioner mentioned, they are going to have to find a way to cut 2 million to 4 million acre field of water. which is a lot if you consider the current estimate that the colorado river basin has maybe 11 million acre fields of floods. host: jennifer is a reporter with e&e news talking about severe drought and water
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shortage conditions in the u.s. west. for those of you in the eastern and central time zones, (202) 748-8000. in the west and pacific, (202) 748-8001. you talk about states encouraging people to end their grass lawn escaping or cutback. -- lawn escaping. -- scaping. is there a threat for freshwater? guest: this is an interesting question and one that a lot of water agencies address any time there have been these questions of drought. last year was the first cut from the colorado river basin. let me back up. there is a drought response agreement in place currently among the seven states that use the colorado river. last year for the first time,
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they put in place a cut. what that means is states around the lower end of the river which have the most junior water rights, took about a 512,000 acre foot cut. so when that happened, the impacts don't go to homeowners. it is not suddenly you turn on the tap and there is no water. instead, it can impact things like in arizona, they do some water banking to try to save some of the water by putting it underground for storage. some of that gets cut and the next goes to agricultural users, being a big use of water. everyone likes lettuce in the winter and it comes from arizona and california. it doesn't hit municipal users in the way that you think it does even when we talk about
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conservation, things like getting rid of bluegrass, installing more efficient dishwashers and faucets. all that being said, water authorities, it is the first thing they have to address, will these cuts impact me in my home and the answer is no. host: asking about the agricultural side and the experience of india act, there is a story in "the new york times" floods and heat waves jolt india's food supply. "for india and other south asian countries home to hundreds of millions of the most vulnerable, a seemingly bottomless well of problems has only deepened as the region bags on the front line. global warming is no longer a disk -- distant prospect that they can look away from. the increase e -- increasing
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volatility -- severe economic damage countries already straining to increase growth and development, and move past the pandemic to lives and livelihood of with the experience in india on the threat to their agricultural system, is the u.s. facing any threat because of the water shortage to our agriculture industry? guest: that's one of the worries down the line and something that senator joe manchin from west virginia who of course as we mentioned yesterday, doesn't deal with drought and his state, he is the chair of the energy channel so he voiced his worries about what can happen to drought and the impact in the west can ripple across the country. that could mean higher food prices if agriculture has to use
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more expensive means to atwater, if they cut back on what they are able to produce. there is the ability it could ripple out and hit the grocery store. host: round hill, virginia -- excuse me, maine, pam is calling. caller: thank you very much. i appreciate you all. i just muted my tv. iq for doing this. it is not -- thank you for doing this. it is not only la niña, it is the climate change event that is truly happening. in 1999, i led the first climate conference in maine whether or not of the experts knew whether it would happen. it is now 20 and it is in fact happening. -- 2022 and it is in fact happening. we have to investigate every single issue, proposed action in
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light of how we can adapt, mitigate to this climate change crisis. i certainly so appreciate washington journal and your ability to have all five to listen to. host: it is not just a western issue. the u.s. drought monitor shows in maine, that normally -- abnormally dry conditions for what looks to be one third of the state. guest: yeah, absolutely. drought can impact any state in the nation. the impacts are different here in the west. we do tend to see larger wildfires which can be an issue and that can be sort of a compounding issue. you can see large wildfires in the west because of climate change and increasing temperatures. wildfires can cause burn scars. they can damage the soil so when
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we get precipitation it is not going into the ground. it can create floods and mudslides and other things. of course, not the wildfires themselves but one of the examples of the drought, we can still have flooding damage. whatuns just over 5 hours.
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