News Feature | September 18, 2015

U.S. Has Reached 52 Percent Drought

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

It’s official: Most of the U.S. is facing drought conditions.

“The U.S. Drought Monitor, which runs its analyses every Tuesday and releases the data every Thursday, says that 52.00% of the United States — including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico — is suffering from a lack of precipitation and is now abnormally dry or stuck in a drought,” Gawker reported.

The West may get the most attention for drought, but dry weather is plaguing almost every part of the country.

“It’s not just the Carolinas wondering when things will return to normal. There are scattered patches of dryness and drought throughout the region from Maine to Florida, with the worst drought occurring in southeastern Florida. The drought in far southern Florida has somewhat improved over the past couple of weeks, but it’s still considered a severe drought,” the report said.

In South Carolina, dry weather is creating disaster areas, according to the Associated Press. “Three-quarters of South Carolina’s counties have been designated primary natural disaster areas because of persistent drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture this month says 35 of the state’s 46 counties have the designation because of damages and losses caused by excessive heat and drought that began May 1,” according to the report released this month.

NASA says that droughts could continue getting worse. “Droughts in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains during the last half of this century could be drier and longer than drought conditions seen in those regions in the last 1,000 years,” a NASA study said, according to 24/7 Wall St.

Eight states in particular are running out of water. “To be considered, a state needed to have at least 20% of its land area in severe to exceptional drought conditions,” the report said. The states include South Carolina, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, California, Washington, and Oregon.

There are a variety of proposed solutions for the effects of drought, ranging from conservation to regulatory interventions. Experts say cutting down non-revenue water will be an important front in this battle. Drought states are hardly immune to water loss, according to the Daily Democrat.

"Some utilities in the Northern California area had the worst leakage in recent years. The city of Sacramento lost 135 gallons per service connection per day — more than enough daily water for the average Angeleno — according to the California Urban Water Conservation Council's 2012 data, the latest available. Service connections are hookups to either homes or commercial buildings. The statewide average loss per service connection in recent years was 49 gallons," the report said.

For more on the drought, visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.