Friday, March 13, 2015

Year 4: It Never Rains in California

by Calculated Risk on 3/13/2015 07:51:00 PM

Another heat wave in California this weekend (the high was 90 where I live). This is the fourth year in a row with little rain or snow in the mountains (the statewide snowpack is about 17% of normal for this date). California is the largest agricultural state, and an ongoing drought could have an impact on food prices - and on the economy.

An Op-Ed in the LA Times: California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?

January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too.

Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins — that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir.

Statewide, we've been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. ... Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.

As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water.
Maybe it is time to revisit the Alaska-California Undersea Aqueduct proposal.