Why California Could Run Out of Water in Two Years If the Drought Continues

Water expert Jay Famiglietti talks about the state’s dangerously low reservoirs and what you can do to save water.

(Photo: Noah Berger/Reuters)
Todd Woody is TakePart's senior editor for environment and wildlife.

If anyone knows how dire the drought is, not just in California but throughout the Southwest of the United States, it’s Jay Famiglietti. A senior water cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a professor at the University of California, Irvine, Famiglietti is frighteningly familiar with the dynamics of a warming climate and an increasingly stressed water supply as well as the Byzantine way we regulate—and don’t—a commodity that will be more valuable than oil this century.

In the documentary Last Call at the Oasis, Famiglietti succinctly laid out the crisis we face. Now in new interviews filmed for an update to the movie, which was produced by Participant Media, TakePart’s parent company, Famiglietti offers insight into just how fast California is depleting its groundwater supplies to the point of no return as well as the inequity in how the nation’s most populous state allocates ownership of water. Finally, he offers some practical but important advice on how citizens can conserve water.

The drumbeat of dismal drought news can be mind-numbing, but here’s a number that should make you sweat, even if you’re not a Californian: The Golden State, the world’s eighth-largest economy and a driver of U.S. prosperity, has just a two-year supply of water in its reservoirs. If the current drought continues past 2016, all bets are off.

Or as Famiglietti puts it: “Pray for rain.”

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