As drought drives prices higher, millions of Californians struggle to pay for water – and it’s only going to become more difficult
Droughts are nothing new in California, but climate change is giving them a new urgency. When California’s climate is getting drier (and hotter), the impact on water resources is only going to get worse.
That’s the grim prognosis from a new report by the California Department of Water Resources that predicts climate change will make it more likely that there won’t be any water left to deliver to farmers and cities – as we enter a new era where water resources are strained more than they’ve been in a long time, and the cost of water becomes more and more burdensome for everyday Californians.
Drought is already at the front of Californians’ minds, thanks in part to a drought that hit in 2014. The state has endured four “exceptional dry” years so far this century, bringing the state’s water year to year average to only 8% of its historical average. The drought that started in 2013, though, has already pushed the state below its historical average – and could have caused a state-wide disaster. It’s a sobering prospect that shows just how fragile California’s water supply is and how much the state needs to make changes to save itself from a future that could see it go without water.
One of the challenges will be keeping water from running off during periods of drought – because it doesn’t rain every year. The California Water Resources Control Board forecasts that the number of days where water doesn’t run off in the next 20 years will increase 30%, from 37 days in 2013 to 63 days in 2035.
That’s a steep increase from just two or three years ago, when the drought was at its worst.
To make matters worse, California is already experiencing one of its most intense periods of drought in the history of the state’s history. And that means California’s water resources have been stretched to the breaking point.
Drought-wise, 2014 was a bad year for California.
Just as Californians are dealing with the challenge of drought, the state’s water department is also dealing with a massive challenge – and one that will soon become the biggest water problem in the state’s history. By 2025, the department projects that