California in trouble: 58 percent experiencing exceptional drought

California may be in trouble. The drought in California is getting worse as more than half the state now suffers from the most severe drought conditions possible.

California in trouble: 58 percent experiencing exceptional drought

California may be in trouble. The drought in California is getting worse as more than half the state now suffers from the most severe drought conditions possible.

The state represents not only the largest economy and population of any US State, but has an important international travel and tourism industry.

The recent study published by the US Drought Monitor noted that 58 percent of California is experiencing “exceptional drought,” which is the most serious category on the agency’s five-level scale.

It’s also the highest percentage to be recorded since the federal government started monitoring drought levels in the 1990s.

What’s more alarming, however, is the fact that before 2014, no parts of California ever suffered from such severe conditions. As the Los Angeles Times notes, the rate at which this level of drought has spread throughout the state is unprecedented. In fact, about 22 percent of the state was moved into the “exceptional” category during the last week.

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Additionally, California’s reservoirs are significantly short of where they need to be. Their current state isn’t as bad as it was in the low point of 1977, but Brad Rippey of the US Department of Agriculture stated that “California is short more than one year’s worth of reservoir water, or 11.6 million acre-feet, for this time of year” as a result of the drought.

Now in its third year, the drought has left local officials and lawmakers scrambling to address the problem. Fines are up to $500 against those using water wastefully. California Governor Jerry Brown has tried to drastically lower the state’s overall consumption of water.

California has also shut down 11 oil and gas exploration sites – and is reviewing more than 100 others – in areas hit hard by the drought, which has already cost the state more than $2 billion this year alone. The order came over fears that companies may be injecting toxic wastewater into underwater aquifers that are being tapped for drinking water.

In addition to concerns over drinking water, the dry conditions statewide have increased the threat of wildfires, which have raged through parts of California, damaging homes and forcing evacuations.

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