Drought Update: California loses $600 million to drought, Lake Powell in peril

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A new studyucdavis watershed reveals that California's historic drought will cost the state $603 million in 2016 and result in the loss of 4,700 jobs.

The findings from the University of California Davis Center for Watershed Sciences also include:

  • The drought in 2016 will result in a 2.6 million acre-foot reduction in surface water available to agriculture.
  • This surface water loss will be partially replaced by increasing groundwater pumping by 1.9 million acre-feet, at a cost of $303 million.
  • The resulting net water shortage will cause losses of $247 million in crop revenue.
  • Direct costs to agriculture total $550 million.
  • The total statewide economic cost of the 2016 drought is $603 million, with a total loss of 4,700 seasonal and part-time jobs.

Although a staggering blow to the economy, the impact is far less severe than a year ago, which saw a statewide cost of $2.7 billion. The study notes that this year's wetter winter and spring helped California partially recover surface water storage and increased recharge to some aquifers. See the full report

The Western Governors' Drought Forum was the Chairman's Initiative of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Part of the Initiative's continuing effort is to share the latest news about drought and its impact on the West.

  • usdm816The latest U.S. Drought Monitor reports exceptional drought in California and extreme drought in MontanaNevadaSouth Dakota and Wyoming.
  • new study finds that another drought similar to the one from 2000-2006 would empty Lake Powell.
  • Learn why experts say summer rainfall is not enough to pull Utah out of drought.
  • Find out what increased drought in South Dakota means for cow elk hunting licenses.
  • See the clever adaptations that giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada use to respond to water stress.
  • Check out the new internet-enabled water monitoring device that will track usage via smartphones.
  • California water regulators have just announced that drought conditions have improved enough to allow restrictions on hundreds of water suppliers to be lifted.

Learn more ...

Droght Forum Cover ImageRead the Western Governors' Drought Forum Report, which is arranged around seven key themes that emerged during the first year of the Forum, and view a video update.

The Western Governors' Drought Forum also includes regional workshops that gather experts to share best practices, case studies and other resources to help states better anticipate and manage drought. Learn more on the Drought Forum website. You can also sign up for e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page). 

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook.