The current drought in California is one of the worst on record in the state’s history, and not surprisingly it has broken a 120-year-old record for heat. 80 percent of California is experiencing extreme drought. A State of Emergency was declared January of this year, since then the state has been forced to ration water with even celebrities such as Conan O’Brien calling on California residents to save water. In San Francisco water users have been told by utility officials to reduce outdoor watering by 10 percent or face penalties, as the public utilities commission has been unable to get organisations to reduce water usage voluntarily namely schools, parks, golf courses and shopping centres. As seen in this satellite map from NASA Earth Observatory California is not the only part of the US experiencing extreme drought this summer.
One of the greatest impacts of drought is on groundwater supply, which is stored in underground aquifers. Sources of groundwater in the western US including the Colorado River basin have been drying up (more about importance of ground water loss in this study publicised by AGU). According to the US Drought Monitor California has received rain but the effects on the drought have been ‘inconsequential’. This is mainly due to heavy rain showers missing key watershed areas and lack of widespread coverage.