Economy

Trump's Mistake: 9 Counties Running Out of Water

3. Tulare County
> Pct. area with exceptional drought:
95.7%
> Metro area: Visalia-Porterville
> Total population: 459,863
> Pct. labor force employed in agriculture: 19.3%

Tulare County’s economy is one of the most heavily dependent on agriculture in California. Nearly 20% of the county’s labor force is employed in agriculture compared to just 2% of national labor force. Dairy is by far the county’s largest agricultural product, and dairy farmers across the county and the state have struggled to provide enough water to plant feed for their cows. As a result, dairy farmers across California have been forced to reduce the amount of land they plant to feed their herds and to import feed from out of state at a premium. In February 2014, just as the drought was beginning to become extreme in Tulare, the county declared a state of emergency due to dry conditions.

2. Ventura County
> Pct. area with exceptional drought:
100.0%
> Metro area: Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura
> Total population: 850,536
> Pct. labor force employed in agriculture: 5.2%

Since March, 2014, at least 40% of the total area of Ventura County has been experiencing exceptional drought conditions. By July 2014, exceptional drought conditions covered 100% of the county, and conditions have not subsided since. Roughly three-quarters of the county’s 850,000 residents import their water, but the remainder do not. And conditions have become increasingly dire. The county’s Lake Casitas, which serves as a reservoir for the region, has dropped 69 feet to its lowest ever point since it was artificially filled in 1958.

1. Santa Barbara County
> Pct. area with exceptional drought:
100.0%
> Metro area: Santa Maria-Santa Barbara
> Total population: 444,769
> Pct. labor force employed in agriculture: 8.7%

No county in the state has experienced drier conditions for longer than Ventura County. Since August 2013, at least 90% of the county has been in extreme or exceptional drought — the second-worst and worst levels of drought classified by the USDA. For the last 22 months, the entire county and its 444,000 residents have been living in exceptional drought conditions. Lake Cachuma, which is the main water supply for the southern part of the county, could reach its lowest historical levels by the end of the summer and be completely depleted by the end of the year.

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