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So, what happens when there's not enough water? Well... not good things. Do we let homes have more water for showering and cooking? Or do we let farms have the water for growing crops? There aren't any easy solutions, but today Sabrina chats with us about how water scarcity can cause problems.

///Standards Used in This Video///
5-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

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Producer & Editor: Nicholas Jenkins
Cinematographer & Director: Michael Aranda
Host: Sabrina Cruz
Script Supervisor: Mickie Halpern
Writer: Allyson Shaw
Executive Producers: John & Hank Green
Consultant: Shelby Alinsky
Script Editor: Blake de Pastino

Thought Cafe Team:
Stephanie Bailis
Cody Brown
Suzanna Brusikiewicz
Jonathan Corbiere
Nick Counter
Kelsey Heinrichs
Jack Kenedy
Corey MacDonald
Tyler Sammy
Nikkie Stinchcombe
James Tuer
Adam Winnik
[Intro plays]

Sabrina: We've talked a lot about water, you know a lot about water and that's a good thing because without it, none of us would be here. Earth has a certain amount of water that's been circling the globe for millions of years. Remember that you're drinking the exact same water that the dinosaurs used to drink. You also know that the vast majority of the world's water is in the ocean. That's great for whales and clownfish and octopuses, but it's too salty for us to drink, so instead we let nature do the work through the process of evaporation, condensation and precipitation.

Does this sound familiar? The water cycle. Evaporation takes water from the surface of the ocean and turns it into water vapor, leaving the salt behind. The water comes back down to Earth in the form of precipitation: rain, sleet and snow. This fresh water is all the water we'll ever have. It's a limited resource in a closed system. Now, we've also talked about how people sometimes change the level of freshwater they have access to by polluting, damming and overusing water, and we saw what happens to animals like the vaquita and freshwater fish in the Elwha river in Washington state when we mess up the water supply. But what happens to people when there's less freshwater?

[Text: Big Question]

The short answer is when access to water goes away, it can get pretty scary. Of course we need water to drink, that's a biggie, but we also need water to grow crops, keep toilets running, and make things. And we use water for a bunch of other stuff, like washing our cars and keeping our lawns green. So to see how people are affected when there's less freshwater available, let's take a look at some places that don't have quite enough.

[Text: Investigation]

Our investigation starts in sunny California. Maybe too sunny California. As of today, California is in the middle of a drought, a big one. It's not raining as much or as often as it needs to. On top of that, southern California is at the end of the Colorado river. For millions of years, this river flowed from the Colorado Mountains all the way to the sea where California meets Mexico, but today the river often dries up before it reaches the ocean. So less water gets to California than before. So what goes on when California doesn't have enough water?

Well you know what can happen when there's one really cool toy and a room full of kids? The kids fight. And California produces nearly half of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the United States, so how much water that California has access to has big effects on lots of people. As a result, water scarcity is creating conflict. Do I get to flush my toilet, or do you, farmer Joe in California, get to water your crops?

To work out disputes like this, the fight for water's taking place mostly in court rooms. For example, some people in California are pushing for new laws to regulate who gets how much water, and many other states are experiencing drought too, so the conflict isn't just confined to California. Among all the states along the Colorado River, arguments are breaking out about who gets how much water from the river. And these arguments are raising big questions. Like do we keep sending water to cities in the desert, far away from the river, even though those cities close to the river are low on water too? And do we let farmers use the water so they can keep working and growing food? Or do we send it to homes so that people can take showers and cook dinner?

[text: Conclusion]

These are tough questions, and the fact is the problems in California aren't new. Water has been a major source of conflict among people in different parts of the world for thousands of years. Next time we'll take a look at different ways people are responding to the scarcity of freshwater, and maybe it'll spark ideas in you to help find a solution to our water problem.