But what can we do to change the weather if rain dancing or cloud-busting are improbable options?
Not much. But the experts point out that we can affect how water flows.
In fact, saving water would be the most efficient means of increasing the water supply, especially if the agro industry lowered the tremendous amounts of water it consumes. For example, California currently produces more than 80% of the world’s almonds, and each little nut takes four litres of water to grow.
However, water conservation is much more politically controversial in the USA than in Europe, and increasing or introducing other restrictive measures would be likely to result in legal action.
“Therefore, you have to resort to collecting rainwater, for example,” says Søren Hvilshøj, Global Market Director of Ramboll Water, who has project experience from more than 40 countries around the world.
Having visited California this autumn (2015), Søren Hvilshøj has seen the almost empty reservoirs and other signs of the drought firsthand. American experts are tackling the problem, but he believes Scandinavian experts also have a lot to offer.
Scandinavian companies have gained a lot of experience collecting and using surface water rather than letting it run off in sewers – as is the tradition in the USA.
Ramboll, for example, has carried out much of the Danish National Groundwater Mapping Programme, an initiative encompassing multidisciplinary hydrogeological projects.
“So, first, we can conduct 3D-surveys to identify where collecting surface water is cost-effective. We understand the geology and how to measure and prevent contamination risks. Second, we’ve done many holistic projects in Sweden, Finland, Romania and now also Dubai, where rainwater from roads or big parking lots is collected and filtered, so it ends up as potable groundwater,” explains Søren Hvilshøj.
And prominent politicians in California are listening:
“As chair of the California State Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee, I was quite interested in tapping Ramboll’s expertise in water and energy sustainability,” says senator Fran Pavley, who visited Ramboll’s Head Office in Copenhagen this September (2015).
“California is facing a fourth year of record drought, and our delegation benefited greatly from what we learned in Copenhagen about the interplay between smart infrastructure investment and high-tech conservation practices. The combination can help us adapt to climate changes,” the Senator observes.