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Drought brings stress, economic loss, and societal inequities

California Drought Reservoirs
Posted at 6:58 PM, Jul 11, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- California’s climate is prone to prolonged periods of drought, which could take a heavy toll on people mentally, emotionally, and financially. It doesn't suck away only moisture from fields and pastures; it can suck away hope, too.

The most severe drought on the instrumental record stretched from 2012-2016 and had far-reaching effects on California's economy, ecosystem, and citizens. According to a report released in 2017 by the Pacific Institute, the drought increased California's electricity costs by $2.45 billion and contributed to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

Farmers and ranchers can experience economic losses that lead to financial hardships, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Outdoor recreation opportunities diminish. Food prices sometimes increase. Drought can also lengthen and intensify our wildfire season.

Michelle Torres is a mother of three who grew up in the southeast San Diego area.

“When you're asked to conserve water, and you have a young family, it can get very nerve-wracking very fast,” Torres said. “Unfortunately, we know it’s likely going to happen at some point.”

Experts said they're aware most families are never fully prepared emotionally and mentally for drought. Here is some suggestion on how to respond to the drought:

Drought is a severe health threat for people from all walks of life, but it is a major concern for communities already vulnerable due to societal inequities.

As with many issues in the U.S., research has shown that a person’s health can be affected by their home’s geographic location, whether they have access to medical care or other vital resources, and how much money they make. Living in an area with few hospitals or physicians means less access to preventive care, putting people at increased risk for various health conditions.

"People with fewer resources can't afford to pay for healthcare, air conditioning, and often live in much older buildings without proper insulation or outdated water pipe systems," Cristina Morris, social justice advocate, told ABC 10News.

Morris believes to ensure people living in marginalized communities receive the care they need, San Diego County needs to establish an inclusive goal to provide assistance, safeguards, and resources.

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