Study: Drought to Cost California $2.2 Billion

By the Numbers: $2.2 billion

California’s persistent drought is turning into a money-suck of historic proportions. The dry scourge will end up costing the state $2.2 billion and more than 17,000 jobs, according to a new study from the University of California, Davis.

Experts say consumers will be spared for the most part, which may be a bad thing since it deceptively downplays the effects of what the study deems the “greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture.”

Even as protracted dry years in 2015 and beyond are expected to cost Central Valley farmers $1 billion a year, urban dwellers with mostly sufficient supplies will likely buy water from agricultural areas.

Unfortunately, experts say, the shortfall could have been lessened if the state had built more reservoirs or farmers had more accurately accounted for their groundwater levels.

Inadequate monitoring has made it tough to track how much water lies beneath the surface, which makes tapping it like writing checks without ever balancing the checkbook.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

7 Comments

  1. If we can build a canal from Northern California to Southern, why can’t we build one from Washington to Northern California? Just seems like an easier, cheaper solution than these 10 year panic droughts.

    • > If we can build a canal from Northern California to Southern, why can’t we build one from Washington to Northern California?

      RIGHT ON! YOU DA MAN!

      The Romans knew how to build aqueducts 2,000 years ago. They probably learned how to do it from the Egyptians who did it 4,000 years ago.

      California could be the food basket for the PLANET if it would irrigate the central valley and develop agriculture to its full potential.

      The reason this DOESN’T happen probably has a lot to do with the environmental fantasies of a bunch of white trust fund children who sip free trade coffee and dream utopian dreams at the Sierra Club headquarters in urban San Francisco.

      Tim Draper’s ballot initiative to divide California into six states makes enormous sense. Greater California will have a total of twelve senators, and the octagenarian Feinstein and septuagenarian Boxer can spend a lot more quality time with the snotty kids on Market Street, while the other five sixths of California frees itself from the heavy boot of the regulatory state and gets about the humanitarian business of providing cheap food and energy to the rest of the world.

      There is PLENTY of fresh water on the planet. It is only politicians and their harnessed bureaucrats that are making it a scarce resource.

      • California could be the food basket for the PLANET if it would irrigate the central valley and develop agriculture to its full potential.

        Sadly we used to be the food basket for most of the country (see valley of hearts delights) but the problem is the same climate that plants are happy in, people are happy in as well.

  2. Now is the time to pass PERMANENT legislation banning the growing such high-water-use/low economic value crops like rice and cotton in California.

    Also, serving water in restaurants should be only upon request, PERMANENTLY.

    Angelenos who hose down their driveways should face a $500.00 first offense fine…PERMANENTLY.

    California is a semi arid desert environment. People too ignroant or too lazy to conserve should be required to pay heavily for their ignorance and laziness. There’s nothing like a heavy fine to change behavior.

    • Bemused- growing marijuana takes more water than just about any other crop. As you are an advocate of growing, perhaps growers can take some of the profit and contribute to a long term water solution.

  3. > Angelenos who hose down their driveways should face a $500.00 first offense fine…PERMANENTLY…

    I’ll compromise with you.

    If every person in California who voted for a PROGRESSIVE candidate for anything would cut their water usage by 20 percent, there would be enough water and NO drought crisis.

    I see it as a WIN-WIN progressives get to make a symbolic gesture which allows them to feel good about themselves; everyone else gets enough water and can continue living normal lives with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  4. While politicians are yammering about water conservation they could make some emergency amendments to the CA code (Chap 16) which allows for the use of laundry-to-landscape (greywater) but the same code forbids the use of bathwater-to-landscape for water re-use, a good conservation measure. One must ask themselves what is better for those rose bushes – laundry or bath water? Ask your water provider for an explanation when their “Water Police” show up at your door.