California is now in its third year of drought, with almost 80 percent of the state experiencing extreme drought and over a third of the state experiencing what the U.S. Drought Monitor terms “exceptional drought.” That’s the driest it can get.
In January of this year, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, urging residents to cut back on their water. After minimal compliance on the part of residents, the State Water Resources Control Board is now considering mandatory water restrictions.
The UC Davis report, funded in part by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Water Resources, analyzes the damage done to the state’s agricultural sector. The Great Plains may be America’s breadbasket, but California fills the rest of its pantry. Nearly half of all U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables come from California’s central valley, and after 30 of the driest months in the state’s history, those crops are suffering.
The report estimates a loss of $810 million from lower crop revenues, $203 million from livestock and dairy losses, and $454 million just from pumping so much more water to feed what’s left. With surface waters – rivers and reservoirs – running at one-third normal strength, farmers are pumping 62 percent more groundwater than usual. This still hasn’t stopped 410,000 acres of the central valley – an area ten times the size of Washington, D.C. – from fallowing.
Workers are also suffering, with over 17,000 seasonal and part-time jobs lost in the process.
Altogether, UC Davis calculates that the drought will cost California $2.2 billion in 2014 alone.
To read the full economic analysis, click here.