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The Effects of California's Driest Year

The Effects of California's Driest Year

This post is the second installment of a three-part series highlighting the 2014 California Drought. Check out Part One of the series: "California Drought: Four Months in Review

For the last three to four years, drought conditions have spread all across the western US, but recently, California has been hit the hardest, facing dry temperatures and withered land. The following infographic from Drought Monitor shows you just how dry (and as a result, at risk for fires) certain areas of California are. 100% of the state of California is now in “severe” to exceptional drought.

California Drought Monitor

Conservation Mode

The state is in emergency water conservation mode until further notice. According to Kathleen Miles from the Huffington Post, Governor Brown has advised residents to cut their water use by 20%. Homeowners who don’t promptly fix leaks have been fined by city governments.

Coin-operated car washes must only use recycled water. Restaurants and private citizens are encouraged to use paper plates and cups, and water is served in restaurants only upon customer request. Newly-constructed swimming pools may not be filled. Earlier in the year, cities were squabbling over who gets how much water; and in Mendocino County, the sheriff’s office is keeping a close eye out for water thieves who try to pump water from Lake Mendocino into trucks and haul it away to sell or use.

According to a Huffington Post article from May 16th, 40 city employees in Sacramento have even been “re-designated as ‘water cops’ tasked with reporting and responding to wasteful maintenance.”

Industry Affected

Tourism is also adversely affected. California’s ski industry struggled all winter for the lack of snow. Fishing has been banned in several rivers to protect drought-stricken salmon and steelhead trout that may be in danger of extinction if the drought continues. The wine industry is also suffering, with grapes growing slowly and ripening before they’ve reached mature size.

Wildfires Increase

California is especially vulnerable to wildfires during times of drought. On average, 69 fires are reported monthly during normal conditions; however, just from January 1 to January 25 of this year, 406 wildfires were reported. The California wildfire season typically occurs during the summer and fall, but the drought has caused wildfires to become an all-year-round occurrence.

According to the National Journal, as of May 15th “brush fires in California had burned nearly 10,000 acres, destroyed 30 homes, threatened multiple military facilities, and forced thousands to evacuate.” The state has also faced a series of heat waves, with highs between 98 and 106 degrees F that are not helping the situation.


These drought conditions are severely taking a toll on daily life in California and other areas in the west. Check out our Insight Articles to help you conserve water in the future by building up your own water storage supply today:

Tomorrow, check out Part III of our California Drought Series  "California Drought: the Impact on Farming and Produce"

-Sharon, Kim, and Angela

Photo Courtesy of the United States Drought Monitor

Editor's Note:  Correction to a statement made in an earlier version of this article. Lawn watering and car washing has not yet been banned in California. Watering has been reduced to two days a week and car washing has not been reduced yet. Residents are asked not to water sidewalks in an effort to conserve water.















7 thoughts on “The Effects of California's Driest Year ”

  • Bill Lope

    Jerry Brown has not imposed water restrictions on Ca residents - he only URGED Californians to follow them.

    • beprepared

      That's absolutely correct. He did only urge them to follow them as we suggest in the post. He has not imposed restrictions on all residents, but has simply asked that people be more cautious.

  • David Schwartz
    David Schwartz May 31, 2014 at 11:34 am

    A couple corrections. As a resident in the LA basin lawn watering and car washing has not been banned in the state. What has happened is watering is reduced to two days a week and car washing is not reduced yet. What has been banned is sidewalk watering, a dumb habit done by many here as a dust prevention measure.

    When the things you state are banned it will be known widely.


    • beprepared

      Thanks for the assistance. I was just saying to another blog commenter that I was just in California myself and did see lawns watered and car washing. Thanks for bringing this to our attention because I did not know that it was reduced to two days a week. I will fix the post to incorporate these things. Thanks for being nice about it : )

  • laguna_greg

    You should mention in future articles what the drop in farm production in the CA central valley will do to food prices and availability nationwide in the coming years. it's not going to be pretty.

  • Brian

    This post is incorrect. I live in Sacramento County and people can still water their lawns and wash their cars. Restaurants are not using paper plates and cups. Conservation is in affect to a degree but it has not started affecting peoples lives the way this article is trying to convey.

    • beprepared

      Thanks for catching this. I was recently in California myself (after the post went up) and did see this (as far as lawns and car washing, etc.). As for the Restaurants, we suggest that they are just encouraged to use paper plates and cups, not suggesting that everyone must use them. This leaves it up to the restaurants to decide what they want to do.

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