Beverley Mitchell

California Could Run Out of Water in Less Than Two Years

by , 05/31/14

The U.S. Drought Monitor has released its latest report and the results are deeply troubling. Seven states are experiencing long-term severe drought, resulting in severe water scarcity and profound agricultural losses, and California only has enough water reserves to last roughly two years.


At least 30 percent of the United States is currently experiencing moderate drought conditions at a minimum, but in the Southwest and into the Midwest things are much, much worse. Seven states have over half their landmass under severe drought conditions: Arizona, California, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Six of these states have extreme drought conditions in at least 30 percent of their area. Two states are also suffering the most severe category of drought, exceptional drought, which is covering 25 percent of California and 30 percent of Oklahoma.

Related: Scientists Predict California May be Headed for a 100-Year Megadrought

Severe drought conditions are associated with loss of crops and frequent water shortages and result in mandatory water restrictions, according to 24/7 Wall Street, while extreme drought conditions cause widespread water shortages and major losses to both crops and pastures. Exceptional drought results in widespread crop and pasture loss and water shortages can reach emergency levels. Given than some states have been experiencing drought conditions for over three and a half years, the economic impacts are biting hard.

In California, however, the drought is having an impact on more than just agriculture. The U.S. Drought Monitor’s stats reveal that 75 percent of the state is in extreme drought. In an interview with 24/7 Wall Street,  U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist Brad Rippey stated, “At [the current] usage rate, California has less than two years of water remaining.” Similarly, water supplies are under threat in three other states, with reservoir levels at two-thirds capacity in Arizona, just over half in New Mexico, and about one-third capacity in Nevada.

The U.S. Drought Monitor releases national drought summary statistics every Thursday, including a clickable map.

Via 24/7 Wall Street and The Huffington Post

Photos by Pete Souza via Wikimedia Commons; and Michael Brewer/NCDC/NOAA

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8 Comments

  1. Michelle Province October 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Get real answers. http://youtu.be/5yZhh2leRJA

  2. gordonchamberlain June 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    When informed that global climate destabilization ocean acidification and sea level rise threatens the web of life ,the fate of humanity, and national security. How did the socio ecopaths in government and in corporations leadership respond, with due diligence or criminal negligence? Prosecute Ecocide Environmental crimes against the web of life /humanity http://www.eradicatingecocide.com

  3. M Davis June 2, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Many countries have large de-salinization plants to produce fresh water from the sea. California is conveniently close to the world’s largest ocean so this would make sense. A large public work funded by taxpayers and paid off by users of this water will allow all the water they need for farming, drinking, etc. Can be piped to other areas as well; Las Vegas casinos should be forced to acquire their water this way rather than emptying deep aquifiers that take millenia to refill.

  4. Egalitare May 31, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    California is still a couple of years away from accepting the currently unthinkable: that “back to normal” isn’t going to occur in anyone’s current lifetime.

  5. Loving Self Spirit May 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I think there is no truth in it. The temp. are the usual in recorded history of all time. Mass Media News reports are propaganda in mongering for more ratings to say the least.

    Well maybe now old style farming failing to upgrade land-based farms into far more efficient hydroponic farms. with a vertical hydroponic farm you can produce +10 times more crop in the same area, not be bound by weather conditions, needs no pesticides or chemicals, grows +25% faster, larger and you can grow anything in any season.

    As for the water technology out there’s plenty of that can extract water from thin air, no reason why they can’t start investing on those and then no more water problems.

  6. Bruno Domingues May 30, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Well maybe now they’ll be forced to evolve and actually upgrade old style farming to hydroponic farming which is far more efficient and not affected by weather conditions, also does not need any pesticides.

    As for the water, there’s plenty of technology out there that extract water from thin air, no reason why they can’t start investing on those and then there you go, no more water problems.

    It really feels like governments are still living in the last century, failing to upgrade land-based farms into far more efficient hydroponic farms. With a vertical hydroponic farm you can produce 10 times more crop in the same area, not be bound by weather conditions, needs no pesticides or chemicals, grows 25% faster, larger and you can grow anything in any season.

  7. andresg18 May 29, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Any solutions?

  8. brublr May 29, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Not with the Super El Nino on the way. Then there’s the 160 year atmospheric river, now a few years overdue.

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