Two Images Tell the Tale of California’s Terrifying Drought

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California is experiencing an epic drought. Paul Rogers reports for the San Jose Mercury News¬†that some communities could actually run out of water in the next few months if the Golden State doesn’t get some rain:

In some communities, wells are running dry. In others, reservoirs are nearly empty. Some have long-running problems that predate the drought.

The water systems, all in rural areas, serve from 39 to 11,000 residents. They range from the tiny Lompico County Water District in Santa Cruz County to districts that serve the cities of Healdsburg and Cloverdale in Sonoma County.

And it could get a lot worse.

“As the drought goes on, there will be more that probably show up on the list,” said Dave Mazzera, acting drinking-water division chief for the state Department of Public Health.

Most of the affected water districts have so few customers that they can’t charge enough money to pay for backup water supplies or repair failing equipment, leaving them more vulnerable to drought than large urban areas.

California accounts for almost 12 percent of the nation’s agricultural production. As the PBS NewsHour¬†put it, the dry spell “could mean bad news at the grocery store.”

At i09, Annalee Newitz offers two satellite images that show how dry it is. The first was taken a few days ago. The second shows the same territory last year. Newitz writes, “Note the radically different snow cover, and how the valley areas are a barren brown instead of a deep green.”

Image: NASA's Earth Observatory

Image: NASA's Earth Observatory

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