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Drought Affecting Farmers, Residents and Economy


Last updated 9/2/2015 at 1:18pm

Chris Fitzpatrick

On his way back from Portland, Ore., Chris Fitzpatrick captured the shocking dry state of the Shasta Lake, a reservoir in Shasta County, Calif. The photo shows the dry edges of the lake.

Adding to California's list of problems, the state's 4-year Drought is now costing $2.7 billion. Water scarcity has had a big impact in agricultural production, losing $900 million. It has also had a negative impact on employment, costing 10,100 farming jobs, and 21,000 indirect jobs. Livestock producers are losing $300 million.

Despite all the negative numbers, a study performed by UC Davis, said that farmers are managing well with the use of underground water, though, experts are concerned about the rapid draw of underground water. Some parts of the southern Central Valley have greatly exhausted their groundwater. The increase in pumping is now costing farmers $590 million.

Even though $2.7 billion is a staggering number, it is the equivalent of 5 percent of California's agricultural production, and just one-tenth of 1 percent of the state's annual economic output.

Residents are also suffering the consequences of a soon-to-be-dry California. According to a survey by the rating agency Fitch, water districts will increase their rates to accommodate mandatory conservation measures next year.

A median water rate increase will be of 5 percent, while the largest increase consists of 31 percent. The survey identified that 78 percent of the water districts polled said that they will increase the rate by 2016, or it was already implemented. Residents in Borrego Springs might have already experienced the rate increase when they look a their water bill.

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