Grounded Grapegrowing


Implications of Drought on California's Water Supply

July 2015
by Glenn McGourty

The 2014-15 water year may be a turning point in California water policy if present weather trends continue. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration has classified most of the state as being in “extreme drought” or “exceptional drought.” During the past five months, a persistent high-pressure ridge above the North Pacific (known by many in the media as “the blob”) has resulted in extreme record warmth ranging from 2° to 8° F above normal in the west. These conditions have resulted in the lowest snow packs on record for California—only 5% of normal. Much of the Pacific Northwest is experiencing the same conditions. According to a recent survey by the Farm Water Coalition, 41% of farmland in California using surface water will have 80% less of its usual supply this year due to drought impacts. Groundwater, if available, will have to make up the difference if growers want to continue farming their orchards, vineyards and fields this year.


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