It’s no secret that California is in the midst of a devastating drought, but a new report is putting actual numbers on the problem, and the results are not good. This year alone, California stands to lose over 17,000 jobs and $2.2 billion dollars in revenue because of the water shortage. And while mother nature is partially responsible, the report reveals that local governments and farmers carry more than just a little of the blame.
The drought is so severe in California that it has caused the largest reduction in water availability that California growers have seen. Ever. That’s because California relies on its groundwater to get it through lean times, and since the state hasn’t been replenishing the water tables during years of excess, it makes it that much worse when the water is scarce. Now that lack of water is forcing some farmers to let their fields lie fallow and others to sell off livestock to farmers in the northwest.
Things have gotten so bad that governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January after two previous years of water shortages. The report, which was funded in part by the state’s agriculture and water resource departments, was released just in time to advise state water regulators, who have been considering putting new water restrictions in place in the state to ease the supply demands. But without a cultural shift towards protecting water resources in the state, the $2.2 billion loss and the 17,000 jobs gone could be just the tip of the melting iceberg.