A new study reveals that California’s historic drought will cost the state $2.2 billion in 2014 and result in the loss of more than 17,000 jobs.
The report by the University of California Davis Center for Watershed Sciences also reports:
The drought in 2014 will result in a 6.6 million acre-foot reduction in surface water available to agriculture.
This surface water loss will be partially replaced by increasing groundwater pumping by 5 million acre-feet, at a cost of $454 million.
The resulting net water shortage of 1.6 million acre-feet will cause losses of $810 million in crop revenue and $203 million in dairy and other livestock value.
Direct costs to agriculture total $1.5 billion.
The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is $2.2 billion, with a total loss of 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs.
The study notes that groundwater pumping is expected to replace most river water losses, but that could be a perilous solutions. “California’s agricultural economy overall is doing remarkably well, thanks mostly to groundwater reserves,” said Jay Lund, a co-author of the study. “But we need to treat that groundwater well so it will be there for future droughts.”
Western Governors are well aware of the impact of drought. At the recent Western Governors’ Association (WGA) Annual Meeting, the governors renewed a Memorandum of Understanding with NOAA to continue working together to disseminate drought and extreme weather data, information and analysis in support of resource management decisions in Western states.
New WGA Chairman, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, also announced that his Chairman’s Initiative would be creation of the Western Governors Drought Forum. The Drought Forum, created to foster a dialogue about best practices for drought management, will include an analysis existing state drought plans, regional meetings on drought impacts to specific communities, and a report that captures these lessons learned.