Mandating reporting california
The federal government is also sending millions of dollars in "drought aid," and local counties are exploring how to desalinate ocean water to replenish water supplies.
Some enterprising individuals are even proposing to revive old plans to tow icebergs or haul water down from Alaska.
Most of California is experiencing "extreme to exceptional drought," and the crisis has now entered its fourth year.
This month, signaling how serious the current situation is, state officials announced the first cutback to farmers' water rights since 1977, and ordered cities and towns to cut water use by as much as 36 percent.
"Killing the Colorado" has shown that people are entitled to more water from the Colorado than has flowed through it, on average, over the last 110 years.
Called "prior appropriation," this remains the dominant thread in Western water issues, more than 100 years later. For all of the warnings people in the West get about taking shorter showers and turning off sprinklers, the fact remains that agriculture uses the most water, by far.
Today, the river's reserves are especially low and states are claiming the same amount of water from the Colorado River that they always have — which is 1.4 trillion gallons a year more than the river actually produces.
This sort of oversubscription is similar in California, where historic water rights give many farms first rights to California's streams and rivers, and haven't been adjusted as the state's population has increased and its cities have grown. Well, if you believe Steve Yuhas, a resident of affluent Rancho Santa Fe, California, "we're not all equal when it comes to water." (Yuhas made the unfortunate mistake of complaining on social media that he and his neighbors deserve more water because they pay more property taxes, and "should not be forced to‚ golf on brown lawns," and was pilloried by readers of the Washington Post article that drew attention to his comments.) But actually, every state has its own laws about who gets how much water—and it has nothing to do with property taxes.
Those who don't comply with the cuts will face fines, but some farmers are already ignoring the new rules, or challenging them in court. Davis researchers projected that the drought would cost California's economy .7 billion in 2015 alone.
The drought shows no sign of letting up any time soon, and the state's agricultural industry is suffering. In addition to the economic cost, the drought has subtle and not-so-subtle effects on flora and fauna throughout the region.