California Has Only One Year of Water Left, Warns NASA Scientist
2014 was the hottest year on record for California and the rest of the world, and this intense heat just exacerbates the ongoing drought by speeding up evaporation and drying out the land surface. The entire California population is hanging on by a thread, claims' NASA's Jay Famiglietti.
"California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain," wrote Famiglietti, a senior water cycle scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "In short, we have no paddle to navigate this crisis."
Thus far the Golden State has been relying on water in reservoir storage to survive, however, this supply has been dwindling since 2002, even before the current four-year drought began. What's more, its groundwater supply is nearly tapped out, leaving thirsty residents with few options.
Among Famiglietti's recommendations for saving California from a real crisis is immediate water rationing, a taskforce focused on long-term solutions, and also a law mandating groundwater stability.
Many don't realize it, but disappearing groundwater is the out-of-sight, out-of-mind threat that can potentially push California into a downward spiral. Groundwater comes from aquifers - sponge-like gravel and sand-filled underground reservoirs - that pump freshwater from the earth into people's homes. Tapping into this source helps to make up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
However, what we don't realize is that groundwater actually makes up half of our water needs. And by continuing to rely on this hidden resource, we are threatening our very survival. "These aquifers typically cannot recharge, and once this 'fossil' water is gone, it is gone forever,"