By Michael Snyder – The Economic Collapse Blog
The drought in California is getting a lot worse. As you read this, snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains are the lowest that have ever been recorded. That means that there won’t be much water for California farmers and California cities once again this year. To make up the difference in recent years, water has been pumped out of the ground like crazy. In fact, California has been losing more than 12 million acre-feet of groundwater a year since 2011, and wells all over the state are going dry. Once the groundwater is all gone, what are people going to do? 100 years ago, the population of the state of California was 3 million, and during the 20th century we built lots of beautiful new cities in an area that was previously a desert. Scientists tell us that the 20th century was the wettest century in 1000 years for that area of the country, but now weather patterns are reverting back to normal. Today, the state of California is turning back into a desert but it now has a population of 38 million people. This is not sustainable in the long-term. So when the water runs out, where are they going to go?
I have written quite a few articles about the horrific drought in California, but conditions just continue to get even worse. According to NPR, snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains are “just 6 percent of the long-term average”…
The water outlook in drought-racked California just got a lot worse: Snowpack levels across the entire Sierra Nevada are now the lowest in recorded history — just 6 percent of the long-term average. That shatters the previous low record on this date of 25 percent, set in 1977 and again last year.
California farmers rely on that water. Last year, farmers had to let hundreds of thousands of acres lie fallow because of the scarcity of water, and it is being projected that this year will be even worse…
More than 400,000 acres of farmland were fallowed last year because of scarce water. Credible sources have estimated that figure could double this year.
Fortunately, many farmers have been able to rely on groundwater in recent years, but now wells are running dry all over the state. Here is more from NPR…
Last year was already a tough year at La Jolla Farming in Delano, Calif. Or as farm manager Jerry Schlitz puts it, “Last year was damn near a disaster.”
La Jolla is a vineyard, a thousand-or-so acres of neat lines of grapevines in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. It depends on water from two sources: the federal Central Valley Project and wells.
Until last year, Schlitz says, wells were used to supplement the federal water.
“Now, we have nothing but wells. Nothing. There’s no water other than what’s coming out of the ground,” he says.
Last year, one of those wells at La Jolla dried up. The farm lost 160 acres — about a million dollars’ worth of produce, plus the wasted labor and other resources.
Are you starting to understand the scope of the problem?
About the author:
Michael T. Snyder is a graduate of the University of Florida law school and he worked as an attorney in the heart of Washington D.C. for a number of years.
Read his new book The Beginning of the End