A study released today by economists from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences depicts a significant socioeconomic impact on the state of California due to this year’s drought. Using extrapolated estimates released on May 19, 2014, researchers reported that water shortages and the continuing drought will cost the state $2.2 billion and cost Californians over 17,000 seasonal, part-time and full-time jobs.
The report indicated that the state’s farmers will lose $810 million in crop revenue and that dairy farmers and ranchers will lose $203 million. Those costs are in addition to $454 million in groundwater pumping costs that will be incurred. The total direct costs to agriculture are $1.5 billion.
According to the study, “The 2014 drought is responsible for the greatest absolute reduction in water availability for California agriculture ever seen.” Due to the drought, growers will lose 6.6 million acre-feet of surface water in 2014 with groundwater making up for 75% of the loss in available water. Groundwater pumping is expected to reach 5 million-acre feet this year, pushing farm water supplies from groundwater to 50%, up from 30% in 2013.
Beyond the economic impacts reported in the study, the researchers included various policy recommendations, none of which were vetted outside of the confines of the UC Davis community. Policy recommendation topics include: groundwater measurement and management; environmental impact reports for water trades; and a water trade clearinghouse.
The study was funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, UC Davis with assistance from the California Department of Water Resources.
Additional information on this and other water issues can be found online at the California Water Blog.
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