NASA recently announced that the state of California only has 12 months of water reserves left. “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,” writes Jay Famiglietti of NASA. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought, except staying in emergency mode and praying for rain. Total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002 while groundwater has been depleted since the early 1900’s.
Tensions are high, and conflicts are breaking out as people are beginning to steal water. Emergency relief bills are using the water crisis to enhance state power. Caroline Stanley of Refinery 29 writes: “The water crisis will likely have the biggest impact on the state’s agricultural community — which accounts for a 80% of California’s water usage. (According to Carolee Krieger, president and executive director of the California Water Impact Network, the almond crop alone uses enough water to supply 75% of the state’s population.) Now average citizens are feeling it the shortage too. How will the state react to this crisis and what conservation lessons can be learned?