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California’s Water Crisis – Get Out While You Can

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Groundwater records should not be kept confidential in drought-stricken California

Imagine having two bank accounts with money for your everyday needs, only one of them – the one you draw from when the primary account runs low – is a virtual black box. You really have no idea what the balance is, and there is no record of deposits and withdrawals.

This is how water is managed in California, with 38mn people and the world’s eighth largest economy. In years of “normal” precipitation, the semi-arid state gets most of its water supply from winter rain and spring snowmelt. However, when this “primary account” of surface water supply dwindles during droughts, farms and communities rely heavily on a mystery account called groundwater, which truly is out of sight and, unfortunately, out of mind.

Few people have information about the underground stores that provide up to 60% of the state’s water supply during droughts, including water to about 600,000 relatively shallow domestic wells, located mostly in rural areas.

State records that provide information needed to characterize groundwater aquifers are kept confidential under a 64-year-old law that considers them proprietary to well drillers. Known as well logs, the records contain data that is public in every other western state – details such as where wells are located, their depth, potential pumping rates, diameter and descriptions of the groundwater-bearing sediments and rocks they are bored through…”

Get out of California while you still can! It will be America’s first “failed State” very, very soon. I am talking to all my CollapseNet friends, family and subscribers here, and I mean every word. Thirty-nine million people surrounded by hundreds of miles of mostly uninhabitable desert…think on that for a while, but not too long. Get your plans in place and put them in action, because this is very real and it is happening right now, albeit in what appears to be slow-motion. That will change faster every week that goes past.

If you live in California, especially in SoCal, you need to pack your shit and move while there are still enough idiots left to buy your property!

I love California, but its fate cannot be more clear. The entire continent and world economy WILL be impacted hard by California’s drawdown (or die-off, if you prefer), but if you live there right now, this is a matter of imminent survival within the coming months.

California will be the world’s most massive demonstration of climate refugees, occurring in the wealthiest and most industrialized nation, but one that STILL HAS NO MEANS to absorb even a significant fraction of the people who are and will be displaced by Liebig’s Law of the Minimum (here, water) from California in the immediate future.

Mother Nature always bats last, hits hardest, and wins.

Anybody have a better plan than to GTFO? Your government doesn’t have one, that’s for certain… – Wes

See also:

California has about one year of water stored. Will you ration now?

The amount of water it takes to grow almonds in California is BANANAS 

Water use in California is a hot topic of debate as the state continues its fourth year of drought.

And there’s some question as to whether California is misallocating the water that it does have.

Here’s a tidbit, from Mother Jones via Marginal Revolution’s Alex Tabarrok:

…agriculture uses 80% of the water in California but accounts for less than 2% of the economy. So how much water does almond production alone use? More water is used in almond production than is used by all the residents and businesses of San Francisco and Los Angeles combined.

It’s important to note that California produces a huge chunk of the produce consumed in the United States. Presumably having food on the table is vastly more important to society than it would seem if you just look at it from a percentage-of-the-economy perspective.

But what about the almonds in particular? It takes a disproportionate amount of water to grow them versus other crops…”

Fuck. Just as we are getting ready to say “goodbye” to the fish, here goes another staple for us folks with food allergies.

Not to mention the gigantic freaking canary that is dead on our living room floor, staring at us with rotting eyes… –

-Wes, CollapseNet

157 Comments on "California’s Water Crisis – Get Out While You Can"

  1. Tina on Sat, 5th Dec 2015 9:51 pm 

    I am a single mom and I want to be able to leave something to my sons (a condo or a house). Does anyone know if Oregon or Colorado will run out of water in future years. I know OR has some future drought predictions, but I am not sure what that means, will they still have water to drink?

  2. Davy on Sun, 6th Dec 2015 12:43 am 

    Tina, Climate change and forces of economic stress will affect these regions and it is just too hard to determine those events. I would say Oregon has good water resources but is in danger of population movements out of California. Colorado does have water issues currently because of its strong population growth. The region has some good water resources but there are limits to growth.

    Tina, I imagine all places will for the most part have water to drink. The water issue is economic and it boils down to can a region support economic activity at a level that supports its population. California has water but not enough to support its agricultural industry and continue to grow population and other industries.

  3. GregT on Sun, 6th Dec 2015 4:06 am 


    If current trends continue, which appears highly likely, the entire West Coast from Alaska to Baja Mexico will become severely water stressed within one decade. California should be of particular concern due to the rest of the continent’s reliance on her food production. The West Coast is highly reliant on snow pack and glaciation for both potable water and electricity. My advice to you would be to move far away from largely populated areas, to teach your sons how to grow their own food, and to become as self sufficient as possible. The UN predicts that by 2025, 2/3 of the world’s population will face water crises. These crises are not magically going to be restricted to countries with presently low standards of living, and they will be the hardest to deal with in areas where people are not used to living in abject poverty.

    The economic situation that we have become accustomed to over the course of most of our lifetimes, is not going to continue on for much longer, and definitely will not last for your sons’ lifetimes if they are still children. There is no simple answer to your question, but it should be clear that it is time to think outside of the box.

  4. onlooker on Sun, 6th Dec 2015 4:34 am 

    Also, Tina, from just the standpoint of fresh water supplies the North East of the US is the most endowed but then again it is very populated. so the best best is either upper N.East/mid east or Canada.

  5. Tina on Wed, 19th Oct 2016 10:56 pm 

    I didn’t see these comments that were left for me until now. Thank you to everyone that relied. All the information is very helpful to me.

  6. makati1 on Wed, 19th Oct 2016 11:50 pm 

    Tina, they will need more than ‘water to drink’. That is only the beginning of raising your own food and keeping sanitary. You need rainfall at the right times and place to raise veggies and fruits, not to mention temperatures. Animals take a lot of water if you are not a vegetarian.

    Things to think about and decide. Talk to farmers in all locations you are considering. Ask their advice. Go to the horses mouth, so to speak. The locals will give you a better picture of the possible future where you want to live, not the internet.

    Maybe a mini-vacation in any area of serious consideration will save money and heartaches down the road. Make sure your sons have some input. After all, they have to make it work. Just a suggestion.

  7. Tina Krippendorf on Tue, 1st Nov 2016 11:54 pm 

    Thanks you for that advice. I wonder what the prognosis really is for CA and Oregon?

    When I’ve told my friends about my concerns about buying real estate in CA or Oregon, my concerns about the two states not having enough water, they don’t believe CA and OR will have water problems that can’t be worked out.

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