California faces a catastrophic drought next year

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Quartz

In the run-up to the holidays, few noticed a rather horrifying number California water managers released last week: 5%.

That’s the percentage of requested water the California State Water Project (SWP), the largest manmade distribution system in the US, expects to deliver in 2014. The SWP supplies water to two-thirds of the state’s 38 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland.

Ending one of its driest years in recorded history for the second year in a row, California, an agricultural and technological powerhouse, faces extreme drought conditions in 2014 unless winter storms materialize between now and April, according to the US National Weather Service.

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That means farmers will receive a fraction of the water they need for spring planting, likely triggering spikes in food price as agricultural land goes fallow. “The San Joaquin Valley is facing the prospect of a record low water allocation, an historic low point in water…

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