NASA scientist: California has one year of water left

A top water scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says California has only about a year’s worth of water left in storage.

Furthermore, groundwater, which is often used as a backup to reservoirs and other reserves, is rapidly depleting, scientist Jay Famiglietti wrote in the Los Angeles Times.


“We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too,” Famiglietti wrote.

He said that California’s been running out of water since before the current, years-long drought. Storage has been falling since at least 2002, according to NASA’s satellite data.

“California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain,” he said. “In short, we have no paddle to navigate this crisis.”

Famiglietti called for immediate, dramatic rationing of water, including domestic, municipal, agricultural and industrial uses.

Southern California is already planning to implement rationing measures this year, and Famiglietti said the rest of the state should follow.

He also said the state should more rapidly implement its plan to establish groundwater sustainability agencies because the current plan will take decades, and too much water will be gone by then.

Famiglietti said the state should immediately form a task force, and the public needs to get on board to “take ownership” of the issue.

“Call me old-fashioned, but I'd like to live in a state that has a paddle so that it might also still have a creek,” he wrote.