Late last month California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency, asking Californians to reduce their water usage by 20%. California has entered its third consecutive year of low rainfall. At the press conference, Brown stated that California is facing one of the worst droughts that the state has ever seen in the past 100 years that rainfall has been recorded. What makes it worst is that California could possibly be heading into a “megadrought.”
According to Wikipedia, a megadrought is defined as a prolonged drought lasting two decades or longer. According to B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of Earth and Planetary Science and Geography at UC Berkley, this last year could possibly be the driest water year that California has seen within the past 500 years. Ingram has studied California’s tree stump rings, and determined that California hasn’t been this dry since 1580. In just 2013, Northern California had 4 inches of rain and Southern California had just 3.5 inches of rain, which for Southern California, is ten inches less than normal.
If the drought continues for the next ten years, not only agriculture would be impacted, but cities could be too. Earlier this month, water agencies announced that a handful of California communities are at risk of running dry of water and it could happen within the next 100 days. Small and rural communities are being affected the most during the drought. The Bay Area, Cloverdale, and Healdsburg are three districts in Northern California most at risk for running out of water. In order to conserve water, the health department is looking into creating wells to store water in these districts. They also are looking into connecting small water systems with larger ones.