California's Water Wars

California's drought turns neighbour against neighbour and threatens communities with displacement

California's Water Wars After 5 years of drought, California has finally had a deluge of rain. But with much of the state’s water supply being sent to LA, people in drought-affected areas feel they’ve been left high and dry.

"When it comes to water a lot of people call us a colony of LA, because the city of LA owns a big portion of the land here in the Owens Valley", says local Kathy Bancroft. She lives three hours north of Los Angeles at the source of California's water wars. Where there was once a great lake there is only grey dust, thanks to the 100-year-old, 300 km long aqueduct diverting water to LA. It's now become the biggest source of dust pollution in the entire US. "They just do whatever they like with our water and the land", says Bancroft. The burial grounds of many of her Paiute and Shoshone descendants have blown away in the arid winds. Now LA has to pay $1.5 billion for sprinklers that pump 80 billion litres of water to control the Owens Valley dust problem. Families on the other side of the Sierra Nevada mountain live in third world conditions, rationing bottled water delivered by the truckload. "Now I just go out and a lot of times I cry", says 96-year-old local Vicky, whose precious garden finally succumbed to the drought. As the world's sixth largest economy struggles to manage its water, by 2025 it is estimated two-thirds of the world's population will face water scarcity.

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