Nautilus

One Key to Wisdom: Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

Folsom Lake, near Sacramento, provides a clear illustration of the extent of California’s drought. On July 20, 2011, the reservoir was at 97 percent of capacity. On January 16, 2014, it was at 17 percent, and there was no water flowing through the Folsom Dam.California Department of Water Resources via NASA
 

California is the the nation’s agricultural powerhouse, supplying nearly half of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables eaten in the U.S., and a quarter of its milk and cream. But the state’s terrible drought, now plodding through its third year, is costing the industry $1.5 billion annually in revenue losses and groundwater pumping costs, according to a recent report from the University of California, Davis. The impacts of the drought would be even more severe if the state were not pumping so much water from underground. If the drought continues for two more years, groundwater will grow increasingly harder and more expensive to pump, creating a

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