California Is Turning Back Into A Desert And There Are No Contingency Plans

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Once upon a time, much of the state of California was a barren desert.  And now, thanks to the worst drought in modern American history, much of the state is turning back into one.  Scientists tell us that the 20th century was the wettest century that the state of California had seen in 1000 years.  But now weather patterns are reverting back to historical norms, and California is rapidly running out of water.  It is being reported that the state only has approximately a one year supply of water left in the reservoirs, and when the water is all gone there are no contingency plans.  Back in early 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for the entire state, but since that time water usage has only dropped by 9 percent.  That is not nearly enough.  The state of California has been losing more than 12 million acre-feet of total water a year since 2011, and we are quickly heading toward an extremely painful water crisis unlike anything that any of us have ever seen before.

But don’t take my word for it.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Jay Famiglietti “is the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine”.  What he has to say about the horrific drought in California is extremely sobering

As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.


Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins — that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir.


Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.

Are you starting to understand why so many experts are so alarmed?

For much more from Famiglietti, check out this 60 Minutes interview.


According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, essentially the entire state is suffering drought conditions right now.  And as you can see from the map below, most of the state is currently experiencing either the highest or the second-highest classification of drought…

US Drought Monitor California 2015

Nearly 40 million people live in the state of California at the moment.

What are they all going to do when the water is gone?

In some rural areas, reservoirs are already nearly bone dry.  And in other areas, the water quality has gone way down.  For example, in one Southern California neighborhood black water is now coming out of the taps

Residents of a Southern California neighborhood are concerned about the fact that the water flowing out of the taps in their homes is the color black. That’s right; the water coming out of their faucets is indeed black — not gray, not cloudy — but black. Inky, opaque black water that the water company says is okay to drink.


Those who live in Gardena, California, are understandably skeptical when asked to consume water that strongly resembles crude oil or something emitted by a squid. The water reportedly also has an “odor of rotten eggs or sewer smell,” according to one resident.

Perhaps you don’t care about what happens to California.

Perhaps you believe that they are just getting what they deserve.

And you might be right about that.

But the truth is that this is a crisis for all of us, because an enormous amount of our fresh produce is grown in the state.

As I discussed in a previous article, the rest of the nation is very heavily dependent on the fruits and vegetables grown in California.  The following numbers represent California’s contribution to our overall production…

-99 percent of the artichokes

-44 percent of asparagus

-two-thirds of carrots

-half of bell peppers

-89 percent of cauliflower

-94 percent of broccoli

-95 percent of celery

-90 percent of the leaf lettuce

-83 percent of Romaine lettuce

-83 percent of fresh spinach

-a third of the fresh tomatoes

-86 percent of lemons

-90 percent of avocados

-84 percent of peaches

-88 percent of fresh strawberries

-97 percent of fresh plums

Without the agricultural production of the state of California, we are in a massive amount of trouble.

And of course there are other areas all over the globe that are going through similar things.  For instance, taps in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo are running dry as Brazil experiences the worst drought that it has seen in 80 years.

The world simply does not have enough fresh water left at this point, and that is why water is being called “the new oil”.  The following comes from CBS News

It’s been said that the wars of the 21st century may well be fought over water. The Earth’s population has more than doubled over the last 50 years and the demand for fresh water — to drink and to grow food — has surged along with it. But sources of water like rainfall, rivers, streams, reservoirs, certainly haven’t doubled. So where is all that extra water coming from? More and more, it’s being pumped out of the ground.


Water experts say groundwater is like a savings account — something you draw on in times of need. But savings accounts need to be replenished, and there is new evidence that so much water is being taken out, much of the world is in danger of a groundwater overdraft.

And if scientists are right, what we are experiencing right now may just be the very beginning of our problems.  In fact, one team of researchers has concluded that the Southwestern United States is headed for a “megadrought” that could last for decades

Scientists had already found that the Southwestern United States were at great risk of experiencing a significant megadrought (in this case meaning drought conditions that last for over 35 years) before the end of the 21st century. But a new study published in Science Advances added some grim context to those predictions.


Columbia University climate scientists Jason Smerdon and Benjamin Cook, and Cornell University’s Toby Ault were co-authors on the study. They took data from tree rings and other environmental records of climate from the Southwest and compared them to the projections of 17 different climate models that look at precipitation and soil moisture. When they made the comparison between past and future, they found that all the models agreed: the next big megadrought is coming, and it will be way worse than anything we’ve seen in over 1,000 years–including droughts that have been credited with wiping out civilizations.

Needless to say, along with any water crisis comes a food crisis.

Virtually everything that we eat requires a tremendous amount of water to grow.  And at this point, the world is already eating more food than it produces most years.

So what is going to happen to us as this water crisis gets even worse?

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grunk's picture

Go further West, young Californian.

You'll hit water before you know it

Escrava Isaura's picture



I thought environment issues were hoaxes?


knukles's picture

Most people in CA are Godless Commies, so don't expect any outside help.

farmerbraun's picture

The really neat thing about unsustainable  civilisations is  that they disapppear of their own accord.

None of the rest of us have to do a damned thing about it.

I like that.

nmewn's picture

Halp us Bar-Rack! Halp us!

The water has receded to far, turn it back on!

ZerOhead's picture

Two words.... Columbia River


Sure... you might have to cancel a couple of upcoming wars to pay for the colossal offshore H2O pipeline but to finally do something on a world class scale again would be awesome. I'm not saying that relying on Russian rockets to get Amerians into space or Chinese electronic components to build your advanced weaponry isn't awesome or anything...

smithcreek's picture

It would be nice to have something to show for the next trillion in printed stimulus cash.  That last trillion went to "shovel ready" jobs and vanished into thin air.

ZerOhead's picture

8 to 10 times the water flow of the Colorado... think of mellons...

Publicus's picture

High speed rail man, high speed rail! Billions and billions for high speed rail, that must count for something, right?

Chauncey Gardener's picture

Who needs agriculture? Saving the
Delta Smelt was a high priority. Besides,
we can get take-out.

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

I like that idea of tapping the Columbia for CA freshwater needs.  Here's how we do it.  You know those crappy AsSeenOnTV fabric nylon garden hoses?  We run a pair of 'em in tandem (two for redundancy/repairs) from Portland to Port Hueneme.  Big ones 20' or so in diameter.  Off the coast a mile or so.  Suspended 100' or so below the surface (below ships and swells), below plastic floats every 100 yards of so, the tubes running through figure-eight shaped guides (one tube through each side of the eight) held 100' below floats by flexible coiled slinky-like plastic leaders.  Propel the freshwater through the hoses/tubes with big-ass pumps in Portland.

Yes We Can.  Come on Obama, you dipshit, make it happen.  Do one, just one fucking productive thing in your wasted, counter-productive eight years you feckless boob.  We'll name this project the O-hose in your honor.

Dickweed Wang's picture

Besides, we can get take-out.

Take out Delta Smelt? Yummy . . .

Farqued Up's picture

Californicator needs moar migrant aliens to harvest the crops and need the high speed trains to go from job to job.

HAARP may be the culprit. Just thinking, if I can learn to handle the mosquitoes and cottonmouths my native Southern swamps may be the real thing. No real shortage of water.

Theosebes Goodfellow's picture

~"High speed rail man, high speed rail! Billions and billions for high speed rail, that must count for something, right?"~

You've hit the nail on the head, Publicus. Governor Moonbeam spends billions on the High-speed train to nowhere whilst the California aqueduct and levee system languishes, mostly because there's no fancy ribbon cutting "prestige" involved in doing maintenance to infrastructure.

The article is slightly in error, as there is a record of an equally bad drought in California in the 1860s. William Brewer told of it in his fascinating book, Up and Down California, the first geological survey of the Golden State. Brewer's keen eye and gift for description give the reader a solid picture of post 49er and early Civil War California.

As a personal note, I have roughly a 1500 gallon rain catchment system which I plan to expand to 2000 gallons before the end of the year, (2 more IBC totes). I use it to water my garden and could probably make it potable in a pinch if I only had some silver. ;)

What am I growing? Just about everything on the list above save avocados and artichokes, plus grapes, figs, watermelon, canteloupe, zucchini, cukes for pickling and corn. But I don't have a lawn. In my California, if I can't eat you, you don't get water from me. It's that simple.

rccalhoun's picture

several trillion to reroute water from northeast to west...plenty of construction jobs for no longer illegal aliens

qe eternity  its win, win, win

Dickweed Wang's picture

Four Chan (above) is a perfect example of mellons . . .

willwork4food's picture

Two more words: Goose Lake California. Might piss off a few Oreganeans though, not to mention some fish.

NoDecaf's picture

I believe this is clear evidence of global drying. The earth is drying up.

Four chan's picture

the earth is spreadding, the water is getting thinner saltier. more polutted.

Headbanger's picture

Nope.  It's all the obesity.

Fat people are holding a LOT of water!

Dodgy Geezer's picture


The problem is that we're drinking it all. We should give up drinking fruit juice, and switch to whisky. There is still enough water in Scotland...


NoDecaf's picture

To all the down voters...I very rarely use /s BTW...If you're too stupid to detect it, then I'll take the junk hits.

Dickweed Wang's picture

Love your globes Four Chan . . . .

Dickweed Wang's picture

Two more words: Goose Lake California.

Ah, that's actually three words . . . .

Teamtc321's picture

California along with the rest of the states should also be growing Industrial Hemp IMHO.

Vullsain's picture


Teamtc321's picture

I'm a hick from the sticks and live in sticks. I fully support Industrial Hemp personally, lol.

In all seriousness, once a person educates themselves on the tremendous industrial benefits of Hemp, IMO, it's a no brainier.



Vullsain's picture

Agreed, amazing that we are not using this resource.

A Nanny Moose's picture

...because you can grow it in yer backyard. No Big Pharma, no Logging, no Chemical Behemoths.

If only I could feed hemp stalks into my Makerbot....sigh

logicalman's picture

Problem with being educated, on planet earth, is that it makes you want to run out in the street and scream your head off!

Every waking moment is a WTF moment.

But then, there's beer.


Headbanger's picture

Tell me about it!

Thus my avatar.

And scotch.

dirty belly's picture
Hemp for Victory - Entire Film - US Government asks farmers to grow it

[P]roduced by the US Government in 1942...Interesting to learn that Dupont Chemical funded the anti- hemp / marijuana effort. This is because they had patents on new synthetic fibers and Hemp had a new machine that would put them out of business if hemp were to be used for clothes. Dupont also sold - and still does many of the chemicals to wood pulp producers... so we continue to cut down forests... when Hemp could save millions of trees, be used as an alternative bio fuel and the US could easily grow enough hemp to eliminate the need for oil... so Big oil does not want hemp legal either. Neither do the drug companies... they can't patent it. They would rather keep selling you their drugs. By keeping it illegal the lawyers, courts etc... also make a buck. You can only get high from the female flower - nobody has ever died from smoking a joint. Of course the alcohol and tobacco companies would prefer to keep their monopoly as well. So we have all the BIG Corporate players... against legalizing it. Yet if it were legalized - we would solve many issues and have a multi billion dollar hemp economy as it can be used for 1000's of products. A few other good films to watch are run from the cure & hemp conspiracy - Google it!



manofthenorth's picture

"The Emperor has no Clothes"

Anglo Hondo's picture

The HEmperor has all the clothes he/she could wish for.

Dickweed Wang's picture

California along with the rest of the states should also be growing Industrial Hemp IMHO.

I agree totally with this position.  For one thing hemp is a very drought tolerant plant. The problem is the fight you are going to face to prevent industrial hemp production from being legalized nationwide. This was/is coming from industries like big oil (hemp oil biofuels), cotton growers (hemp fabrics), chemical producers (hemp fabrics/hemp oil based organic chemicals) and timber harvesters (hemp based paper) just to name a few.  The same resistance was/is coming from the liquor and beer manufacturers when it comes to legalization of hemp's psychoactive cousin.

NoDebt's picture

My life fades, the vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this wasted land. But most of all, I remember the road warrior, the man we called Max.

I already got the car and the guns.  All I need is the dingo and I'm heading west.

Arnold's picture

"The Dingo ate my baby"

Max and Benes references at the same time. Nirvana.

tarabel's picture



Don't forget to stop at PetSmart and stock up on supplies before you hit the road.


NoDebt's picture

I got 5 cases of canned Dinki-Di dog food.

ZerOhead's picture

I hear the canned koala tastes better than the kangaroo...

Danielius's picture

Mad Max did not have a Dingo- that was a Blue Healer.  

thestarl's picture

Still a classic after all these years ND

RaceToTheBottom's picture

Keep you cotton picking mitts of my Columbia River.


Don't Californicate Oregon

A Nanny Moose's picture

This is Soviet USSA. All your Rivers are belong to us!!!