On June 1, water restrictions officially began for many people in Southern California. It is an effort to mitigate the effects of a megadrought. Overall, the last two decades in California have gone on the record as the hottest and driest in the previous 1,200 years.
More than 19 million people receive water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Of that water, nearly 25% comes from the Colorado River, which is already overstressed. Around 45% comes from local sources, such as water retreatment plants, groundwater and even desalination plants. The State Water Project supplies the final 30% of the water. That is, until this year.
The area that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) now classifies as D4—exceptional drought—is rapidly growing. More than half of California is currently in D3, which is extreme drought. No part of California is not in drought conditions at this time.
More than 80% of all the water used in California is for agricultural use, such as farming, and industries utilized around 6%. California agriculture generates around $50 billion, or nearly 3%, of the state’s GDP. Despite the pervasive droughts and dwindling water supplies, California grows more than two-thirds of the nation’s supply of nuts, fruit, and a third of all vegetables. The US is the top global producer of almonds, grown in California.
As locating water becomes more challenging, some have sought out water witches. Water witches are in high demand as ranchers and growers hope to find hidden water reservoirs.