Scientists Estimate California Lost 63 Trillion Gallons Of Water

Water stress: Lake Oroville is almost dried up

Water stress: Lake Oroville is almost dried up

Scientists estimate California lost 63 trillion gallons of water in the past 18 months. California’s drought is so severe it’s causing the ground to rise. And besides that, farmers are pumping water at a rate four to five times greater than can be replenished.


As it turns out, 63 trillion gallons of water is pretty heavy. That is how much water scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego estimate has gone missing from the western U.S. over the past 18 months. That incredible water deficit weighs nearly 240 billion tons, and as it evaporated, the ground began to shift. In California’s mountains, by as much as half-an-inch.

Half an inch lift

While scouring the GPS data, researchers noticed that the ground was slowly rising beneath their feet, coinciding with the drought. Taking a closer look, they found that across the western U.S., the ground has risen an average of 0.15 inches since 2013. The effect is much more pronounced in the mountains of California, where the uplift was as high as half an inch.

Scripps scientist Dan Cayan is hopeful these results can prove to be helpful in monitoring water shortages across the globe.

“These results demonstrate that this technique can be used to study changes in fresh water stocks in other regions around the world, if they have a network of GPS sensors,” Cayan said in a press release.

Drought conditions have spread across over 70 percent of the western U.S. as of Thursday. But no state is feeling the drought as bad as California, where over half of the state was in an exceptional drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor’s worst drought classification.

David Zetland, economics professor at Leiden University College in the Netherlands, says farmers are pumping too much water up. Much more than can be replenished: The people of the state of California are more or less destroying themselves. Farmers should be repaying what they are taking. And if they are taking more, as they always are in droughts, then they should be making plans to repay it back in the wet years. If you treat your groundwater they way you treat your retirement account, then everything would be OK.

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3 Responses to Scientists Estimate California Lost 63 Trillion Gallons Of Water

  1. Abdul Aziz Sangi says:

    I am neither a science technology guru nor a climate change expert. However through my experience I have learnt that where there is will there is way. I believe people of California are well aware of the situation and knowing them I am confident they will find soon a sustainable solution befitting their needs. Solutions like
    – rain water harvesting and storage
    – water recycling
    – water conservation
    – sea water desalination
    – desert agriculture, etc.
    are tried and tested technologically. Only need is to pick a suitable mix of solutions befitting the local conditions. No need to worry. Long Live California

  2. Matathyahu Kones says:

    ISRAEL was in CALIFORNIA’s situation several years ago! The first reaction was to eliminate all agricultural plantations that need lots of water. Prices of water went high to force people take themselves measures for saving water(e.g. drying private gardens,substituting natural grass with artificial,water saving devices for faucets etc etc .

    Then the government decided to apply a smart process for sea water desalination by attaching the installations next to power plants and utilize the cooling power plant process sea water as the preheated water for the desalination process (REVERSE OSMOSIS).
    This way, large quantities of potable water are produced every day, in a realistic price per cu.m., enough to overcome the local drought problems (more than 40% of ISRAEL’s water needs) !

    Actually, part of the water produced or pumped from water resources in ISRAEL, is given to JORDAN and the PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY to supplement their needs! Besides that,there are plans to pour Israeli water to the Jordan river and the Dead sea that are in danger of serious drying and reduce Earth holes creation at the banks of the Dead sea! So, Californians do like ISRAEL has done and save yourselves from the terrible drought…

  3. Water needs like energy needs are increasing such a way that no real solution could be THE answer. We must first review all our way of life and its needs, and also make better infrastructures.

    In France, experts says that around 40% of the drinkable water is lost before use.
    My idea ( and the techno capacity) is to catch the submarine ‘rivers’ or wells that arise from the sea bed all around the world.
    Our technology allows to exploit it (partially to save local life) without any preparation work or any damage to the sea bed, without pumps and without pipes. Even the balloons coming to the sea surface are collected by our 100% green ships only powered by……ocean.

    This solution is almost imaginated for real water scarcity of poor populations.

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