Entire State of California in Severe to Exceptional Drought

By: Crane-Station

US Drought Monitor- West, author Mark Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center

On Sunday, Scientific American reported that 100 Percent of California Now in Highest Stages of Drought. The National Drought Mitigation Center currently releases a graphic drought map each Thursday. Scientific American comments on last week’s map:

The drought in California, which has been building for the past few years, really took hold this winter. December-March is supposed to be the region’s wet season, but this year turned out to be a bust. At the beginning of April, nearly all of the state was in a drought — nearly 70 percent was in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two highest stages. By the end of the month, the entire state was experiencing at least some form of drought in what has been the driest start to a year in California on record.

At the request of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, UC Davis performed a cost and jobs impact study using computer modeling, and estimated costs at $1.7 to $2 billion, with 14,500 lost farm worker jobs. Unfortunately, the Central Valley is hard hit by this drought:

Central Valley farmers expect 1/3 less irrigation water in a state that leads the nation in the production of fruits, vegetables and nuts. The report estimates 6 percent of farmland in the Central Valley — or 410,000 acres — could go unplanted because of cuts in water deliveries. A more detailed report is due out this summer.

According to 2007 data, the top four counties in US agricultural sales are in the Central Valley:

The Central Valley is one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions.[1] More than 230 crops are grown there.[1] On less than 1 percent of the total farmland in the United States, the Central Valley produces 8 percent of the nation’s agricultural output by value: 17 billion USD in 2002. Its agricultural productivity relies on irrigation from both surface water diversions and groundwater pumping from wells. About one-sixth of the irrigated land in the U.S. is in the Central Valley.[25]

Virtually all non-tropical crops are grown in the Central Valley, which is the primary source for a number of food products throughout the United States, including tomatoes, almonds, grapes, cotton, apricots, and asparagus.[26]

There are 6,000 almond growers that produce more than 1900 million pounds a year, about 90 percent of the world’s supply.[27]

Although freeway signs in San Francisco urge water conservation during this time, there is a possibility of water rationing. In addition, wildfires have been an issue and could get worse this season. Governor Brown linked climate change to the drought and skewered the climate change deniers, saying:

“As we send billions and billions of tons of heat-trapping gases, we get heat and we get fires and we get what we’re seeing,” he said. “So, we’ve got to gear up. We’re going to deal with nature as best we can, but humanity is on a collision course with nature and we’re just going to have to adapt to it in the best way we can.”

Brown also lambasted those in Congress who deny that climate change is occurring or is caused by humans, saying in California, there’s no question climate is changing.

“It is true that there’s virtually no Republican who accepts the science that virtually is unanimous,” he said. “There is no scientific question — there’s just political denial for various reasons, best known to those people who are in denial.”

California is not alone. The US Drought Monitor map of last week shows roughly half of the country in some sort of drought.


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Note from Fred: Despite daily requests for donations, there have been only four donations this month totaling $45 and that is extremely discouraging.

13 Responses to Entire State of California in Severe to Exceptional Drought

  1. fauxmccoy says:

    thank you, fred, for posting this. it is a topic near and dear to my heart. i had just written a post about this on another forum where i participate and will exercise a bit slothfulness by pasting it here rather than reinvent the wheel.

    i am in the great valley of northern california, we are in our third year of drought. it’s already been declared a state and national disaster. farmers who feed this country and the world are hurting, crops and orchards are lost. those of us who have experienced this before (’77-’79) don’t need to even be told to conserve water, we do it automatically.

    in the 70s drought, i was still living on the cattle ranch i where i grew up. prices for irrigation water skyrocketed. we had to sell our stock at a massive loss and kept the 6 best breeding cows so we could start over again. my dad was kind enough to let me keep my horse, which was a true luxury. things got bad and then they got worse –our well went dry. a 40 foot well that had provided plenty of water for close to 100 years on our plot of land.

    it’s hard to imagine a family of 5 with no running water and a 4 month wait list for re-drilling as much of the county were suffering the same. i will spare the super gory details — but we had to haul in water and heat it for a bath that was generally shared by 2-3 people. that water was then repurposed to flush toilets 1-2 times a day. used dish water was saved to rinse off dishes throughout the day, at night we heated up fresh water to wash them. the floor was not scrubbed for 4 months. water for cattle had to be hauled in for them to drink. if you were lucky, a neighbor had running water and would let you grab a shower there. bad times, indeed.

    i was never so glad as when the driller hit water finally. our 40 foot well was drilled to 200 feet to find water. those first muddy splurts from the kitchen faucet were glorious to behold. as a 12 year old, i gladly scrubbed the linoleum floors on my hands knees, with no one asking and then enjoyed a shower in my own room. it felt like heaven.

    my experience was like from another century and i do not mean the 20th century.

    california constitutes 12% of the population and 13% GDP of the US and is the world’s 8th largest economy all on its own. when california suffers, the whole nation will. right now, it is hitting us hard, but in very short time the nation will see dramatic price increases at the grocery store. this does affect us all, in this country at least — and likely further as the state is the world’s 5th largest producer of agriculture.

    two night ago, a freak electrical storm hit us from the north. the region does not often see such storms, unlike other parts of the country. as all the grasses and underbrush are already scorched as if it were august, i went to sleep with some trepidation, i loved the sights, sounds and moisture, but was terrified of waking to a choking smoke haze of forest fires in the nearby sierras. thankfully, we were spared, this time.

    it’s going to be one rough summer here again, i fear.

    • masonblue says:

      Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. Crane-Station here. It saddens me, what is happening in California. I lived in Southern California for 13 years, and never saw anything like this. I also don’t know why there was even consideration of fracking the Monterey Shale. There isn’t the water for it.

      Thanks again, much appreciated.

      • bettykath says:

        You bring up a good point about fracking. There is only so much water and it is essential for life. There are forms of life that can adapt to the poisons used by fracking, but the human form isn’t one of them. The EPA held community meetings a couple of years ago. My comment was “why would we allow any industry to forever poison the ONE thing that is essential for our lives? The answer is to completely ban fracking.” Of course it’s all about “mitigation”, just another word for “hide the poison”.

  2. Malisha says:

    OMG, while this is going on, a mere state away in Portland OR, we have this:


    This while it can be proven mathematically that chances are better than 50% that if you drink an 8 oz. glass of water today, one of the water molecules passed through the kidneys of Napolean Bonaparte.

    • HamRadioElijah says:

      I knew I had a water molecule that tasted like a burgundy 😉

      • Soulcatcher says:


        My brother who worked many years for the county waste facility has some good stories of what they found from toilets that have been flushed.

  3. Had an HOA meeting last night and were changing our landscaping to and indigenous design. We will save $7500.00 + a year, reduce lawn mower usage, not use lots of water & we get a nice credit back from the LADWP.

    There are good programs out there here in SoCal, but you have to invest, they’re not free & as a landlord the incentive has to be numerative to achieve any momentum. Conscionse won’t do it IMO.

    • Soulcatcher says:

      We have indigenous desin landscaping in our community, and the HOA is responsible for the first 15 feet. It requires very little watering, but the plants do require prunning. We do have a lawn area which is not large, and you are not allowed to replace it with another means of landscaping or have artifical grass. Their is no restriction in palce now, so its up to you how much you want to use. The water company will notify you on your monthly bill if your water usage exceeds the normal usage, and ways to reduce usage or troubleshoot concerns of usage.

      As a landlord you may charge the tenants a fee for water, but you as the owner are responsible for the bill. We are on water meters so the the amount of the bill varies depending on water usage, so most landlords will write the contract with the tenants stating that that that anything over x amount each month the tenant is responsible for, but if they don’t pay you as the owner will have to pay. Other landlords will charge tenants a flat fee each month, and it may benefit them if the usage is low, or pay more if the usage is high.

      And then there is the Salton Sea…..which is a whole topic itself.

      • Thank you soulcatcher. I cover all the water in a duplex I have. I consider it an amenity. In my commercial property I charge a monthly rate based on consumption over a certain point. The LADWP has tables that are avg daily/monthly usage per industry(s) avail for landlords & tenant & I (it’s a small Panaderia) used that to make our contract.

        Now let’s talk about Desalination. Have we not improved then cost efficiency in 30 years? Cruise ships desalinate for the whole vessel as well as the Navy….Hmmmm.

        • fauxmccoy says:

          this was an area of acedemics for me, with my minor being in ‘california studies’.

          desalination is only practical along certain parts of our coast line (say santa barbara, san diego and a handful of others). they are in use (or plants built and available) but it can only benefit the very localized flat land surrounding the plant. it is not feasible or practical for the majority of our coast line and it to the great valley is a monumental and unlikely task.

          the major problem other than close to 40 million people living in a drought prone area is that 70% of the states rainfall occurs in the pacific northwest and geography dictates that it flows directly into the pacific.

  4. Two sides to a story says:

    What amazes me is that here in S. Cali there’s been no ban or control of lawn watering or carwashing.

    So the overuse of Colorado River water leaves no water at all for people who live along the Colorado River in Mexico. If it wasn’t for the Colorado River and the Hoover Dam, there would be no Carmageddon as we know it because the Cali sources of water were too small to support this huge population.

    When I do dog jogs at night or in the early morning there are streams of excess water running along the gutters from lawn sprinklers. This situation is even worse in prosperous neighborhoods of large homes homes and bigger lawns.

    And we have mosquitos carrying West Nile virus despite the drought – they thrive in all this wasted water puddling in gutters, etc. as well as the increased temps brought on by global warming / climate chaos.

    • fauxmccoy says:

      two sides — as a norteña in the central valley, words cannot express my disgust with southern california and water usage. i spent the first 8 years of my ife in orange county and have gone back numerous ties to visit. what is obvious to me is that the powers that be who hold far more sway in our state legislature simply do not get it that the los angeles basin is a fricking desert.

      the area has not had enough water to support it’s own population since the very early 20th century, but somehow, that desert has been turned into a veritable oasis through power politics.

      two words: owens valley

      yes, it makes me furious, but i am gladdened to see your post because i know that not all southern californians are oblivious.

      as one who has practiced water conservation with almost religious fervor for 35 years, i don’t know how i can possibly use less should mandatory restrictions be placed upon us. i suppose i’ll find a way. i have a much longer post prepared below, but it should clearly demonstrate my passion on the issue.

    • gblock says:

      Hey, don’t blame it all on Southern California. Yes, we could be doing more, but keep in mind that 75-80% of all water use in Cal goes to agriculture, and the irrigation methods use aren’t always particularly water efficient. It is just not possible to take a big bite into water usage without addressing the issue of agriculture water usage.

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