TakePart Features

34 Surprising Facts You Need to Know About California's Drought

Why the Golden State's long dry spell—and its changing climate—will have implications far beyond the West Coast.
Oct 23, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Los Angeles–based Kenneth Miller has written for Time, Discover, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times Magazine, and many other publications.

California, like much of the West, has been locked in a years-long drought scientists say could be a harbinger of things to come. Tree-ring records show that droughts lasting decades have hit the region in centuries past, and a warming climate will make much precipitation in and around the state—now delivered in the form of snow, which conveniently stores water for dry summer months—more difficult to capture.

The nation's largest state by population and agricultural production need not be a victim of natural forces, however. Policy and infrastructure affect how water is used and delivered, and both have seen updates in recent years. With coordination, modernization, and compromise among regions and economic interests, California should still be able to provide enough water for a growing population and a growing economy. The illustrations below show some of the major sources of water that are drying up, and some of the consumers of water that might have to make do with less.

Correction [Oct. 24, 2014]: A previous version of this article misidentified the Kern Water Bank Authority as the Kern County Water Authority. TakePart regrets the error.