Federal meteorologist: California 2 years away from running out of water

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014
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images-Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist believes California is only two years away from completely running out of water.

In a recent interview with 24/7 Wall St., federal meteorologist Brad Rippey said the drought has dragged on for three-and-a-half years in many parts of the country and is possibly worst in California.

"Reservoirs which are generally fed by the Sierra Nevada's and the southern Cascades [are] where we see the real problems," Rippey told 24/7 Wall St., "At [the current] usage rate, California has less than two years of water remaining."

In a February 2014 U.S.D.A. report prepared by Rippey, he placed California as the top trouble spot for this year's growing season with the rest of the Southwest as the second highest trouble spot nationwide. The same report also showed a trend, between 2011 and 2013, in which the California reservoir recharge rate has been between 70 and 79 percent of average, while the withdrawal rate has been between 136 and 140 percent of average.

Currently, according to the United States Drought Monitor, the entire state of California is experiencing a "Severe Drought," 79 percent of the state is in an "Extreme Drought," and 36 percent is in an "Exceptional Drought." An "Exceptional Drought" is defined as "Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies."

CREDIT FOR THE MAP AT TOP OF PAGE: The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

Current California Reservoir Conditions