Have A Comment?

We would like to invite you to write a guest post for the Hydrowonk Blog … more

California Water Supplies Will Last But Crisis Remains

Because of an alarming headline crafted by the Los Angeles Times indicating that California has “one year of water left,” an opinion article by NASA Scientist Jay Famiglietti story went viral, sounded alarms among the public about water supply security and sent Famigletti into damage-control to clarify what he really meant.

A subsequent article, “No, California Won’t Run out of Water in a Year,” (Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2015), along with a new title on Famiglietti’s original piece, clarify that the state has one year’s worth of water in storage according to data from NASA satellites. Famiglietti used the metric, which would be like looking at your bank balance to assess your financial situation, to drive home his argument that rationing is needed—but he noted that groundwater supplies can meet California’s water needs for decades. However, he does advocate accelerating implementation of the groundwater management legislation that the California legislature passed last year and is calling for water managers to get busy coming up with a sustainable long-term water management strategy instead of running forever in crisis mode.

He also clarified his remarks about the longevity of California’s water supply in an interview on Mashable.

Other water managers interviewed in the March 20 Los Angeles Times article took pains to assure the public, but also noted that everything is not okay.

“We have been in multiyear droughts and extended dry periods a number of times in the past, and we will be in the future,” said Ted Thomas, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources. “In periods like this there will be shortages, of course, but the state as a whole is not going to run dry in a year or two years.”

Leon Szeptycki, executive director of the Water in the West program at Stanford University noted that having water supplies available “doesn’t mean we’re not in a crisis.”

Read Famiglietti’s opinion article at:

Read “No, California Won’t Run out of Water in a Year” at:

Read Famiglietti’s interview on Mashable at:


Written by Marta L. Weismann