News Feature | June 26, 2014

Drought Update: California May Only Have Two Years Of Water, Other States Not Far Behind

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

droughtreg

Each drought-afflicted state is unhappy in its own way. 

Just ask federal meteorologist Brad Rippey, who outlined the difficulties of U.S. water scarcity in a recent interview published by 24/7 Wall St.

Rippey, who works with the Agriculture Department, emphasized the duration of the drought and took readers on a tour of the dry spell across the country. “This drought has dragged on for three and a half years in some areas," he said.

Possibly worst of all is California, where the water supply is rapidly dwindling. "At [the current] usage rate, California has less than two years of water remaining,” Rippey said. 

“Reservoirs which are generally fed by the Sierra Nevadas and the southern Cascades [are] where we see the real problems," Rippey said. 

Back in February, President Obama "pledged $183 million from existing federal funds for drought relief programs in California," the New York Times reported

Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada are other the problem states, according to Rippey. He explained the dire nature of drought in each part of the country. 

The problem with the drought in Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma is that those states are critical to the U.S. food supply. “So much of the winter wheat is grown across the southern half of the Great Plains,” he said. 

Joe Prusacki, a director at the Agriculture Department, noted in a blog post that the difficulties for grain farmers pre-dated the severe drought. 

"These past few years, grain farmers have been on a veritable weather roller coaster. The floods of 2011 were followed by perfect spring planting conditions in 2012. Conditions deteriorated rapidly, resulting in one of the worst droughts in at least 25 years," he wrote. 

In the southwest, water storage levels pose a major challenge. 

"In Arizona, reservoir levels were just two-thirds of their usual average. Worse still, in New Mexico, reservoir stores were only slightly more than half of their normal levels," the report said. 

Stay up-to-date at Water Online's Water Scarcity Solution Center.

Image credit: "Drought in Utah," Anthony Quintano © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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