As drought conditions continue to intensify across California and a majority of the western part of the United States, experts explain what the state is doing in response and what ripple effects to expect down the road.
“It reduces the size of their crops, it reduces the size of their herds, if they’re a rancher, for many domestic users it reduces the amount of water they can use to irrigate their lawns,” explained Robert Cervantes, Enforcement Program Manager for Division of Water Rights.
Drought conditions in the west now extend to California residents as central California counties face water restrictions in the coming weeks, farmers could see crop sizes dwindle resulting in less produce for Californians.
“Here what you have is an ongoing impact and effect that will ripple through the course of the next ten years,” said Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture.
State officials are still debating what those restrictions will look like.
“We will craft curtailment orders, these are formal orders requiring certain priority diverters to stop diverting water until further notice,” added Cervantes.
Looking further into the future, conditions aren’t expected to improve anytime soon.
“The bureau will announce the results of its modeling for next year’s conditions which will likely trigger a first-ever lower basin shortage, for the lower basin and Mexico,” said Jeanine Jones, Interstate Resources Manager with DWR.
And although California isn’t expected to be impacted by next year’s forecast, officials still say it’s a dire warning.
“Nevada, Arizona and the Republic of Mexico will take cuts, we in California will not, at the expected levels of lake mead, but it highlights a risk for future years,” added Jones.