All of this is driven, in the most fundamental ways, by climate change. We will be dealing with these issues for a long time to come, even if some years seem to appear within the range of historically normal.
Our leaders are aware of the challenges we face. California lawmakers, for example, are allocating funds from a record budget surplus to address wildfire preparedness and resilience, as we slip into what may be an even worse wildfire season than in 2020, when four million acres burned, more than 10,000 homes and other structures were destroyed, and at least 33 people died. But the unprecedented heatwaves and renewed drought point up other profound impacts of climate change that demand solutions.
Communities need refuges from heat and smoke for residents who lack access to places cool enough to comfortably survive 100-plus degree temperatures that can persist for days. Community resilience hubs would help, as would more parks, trees, and greenspaces where people could escape urban “heat islands.”
As with heat and fire, we need solutions for our stretched water supply. Foremost among them should be increased conservation, and use of recycled water to take some of the pressure off of natural supplies. Recycled water is a cost-effective solution, good for the environment, with lower costs and less negative environmental impact than other water solutions like desalination.
*Purple pipes carry reclaimed wastewater that undergoes filtration and disinfection treatment before being reused.