California’s most recent drought started in 2010, and since then, an estimated 147 million trees have died from the dry conditions and bark beetle infestations, a federal count shows.
Because of excessive groundwater extraction, subsidence—the sinking or settling of the ground’s surface—is dragging rural Yolo and Colusa counties in California downward.
The federal government has asked the governors of seven Western states that draw water from the Colorado River to finally draft a drought contingency plan. This follows an earlier order to do so, but California and Arizona have been unable to complete the task.
Insecure supplies and water contamination in disadvantaged rural communities are particularly threatening in times of drought, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
The Colorado River, which serves seven states in the American Southwest, will likely have a shortage of water by 2020 and the federal government has ordered the states to plan for drought conditions.