John Burchard, General Manager of the Alpaugh Community Services District, walks a ditch bank on the outskirts of town. The small farmworker community in California's Central Valley suffers from high levels of arsenic and other contaminates in its drinking water.

New Era of Much Drier Conditions Forecast For California

The California drought, now in its fourth year and apparently deepening, may develop into the most significant test in American history of the capacity of residents, farmers, businesses and governments to ensure a state’s water security in the new era of climate change. The drought, moreover, is the latest evidence of how hard the Earth is pushing back against modern energy- and water-intensive industrial and agricultural production practices. More people, more communities, and more energy, communications, and transportation infrastructure are now in the path of deeper droughts, more powerful floods, more damaging storms in the United States.

Circle of Blue, in its 2014 Choke Point: Index project, reported on how these trends put the freshwater supply in precarious condition in California’s Central Valley and two more iconic American farm regions.

Circle of Blue’s journalists, led by Seattle-based reporter Brett Walton, are closely covering the environmental, policy, and industrial trends that led to California’s water scarcity emergency. The articles and graphics posted below report expertly on:

  1. Water supply — snowpack trends, rainfall trends, the Colorado River, and climate change — that influence California’s water security.
  2. Water use and consumption trends — industry, energy, farm, municipal.
  3. How California’s people, businesses, institutions, and governments are responding.

For journalists, scientists, government specialists, and our everyday readers, the articles posted here are a valuable resource for research and understanding of what looks to be a national crisis in the making.

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Circle of Blue's senior editor and chief correspondent based in Traverse City, Michigan. He has reported on the contest for energy, food, and water in the era of climate change from six continents. Contact Keith Schneider
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