Low water is seen at the dam of Lake Success as rain totals remain insufficient to break the worsening drought on February 11, 2015 near East Porterville, California. Many local residents, whose water wells have run dry, fill their tanks with free non-potable water for flushing toilets, bathing and laundering and use bottled water for drinking and washing dishes. Many of the dry wells of 926 homes in Tulare County dried up last summer when some 17 California communities ran out of water. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

California is in uncharted territory as their severe drought drags on and water reserves drop to their lowest points ever, with no relief in sight. Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory detailed the issues in a recent LA Times Op-Ed.

“As our ‘wet’ season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows” Famiglietti writes. “We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.” – Los Angeles Times

This winter continued the dry trend and there was little snowfall in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountains. Data from NASA satellites shows that total water storage in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. The state overall has been losing more than 12 million acre-feet of water storage annually since 2011.

Farmers in the Central Valley have been pumping more groundwater and that has caused the ground to subside in places. In some areas of the Central Valley the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.

California is in severe danger of running out of water. There is only about one year’s worth of water in its reservoirs and the groundwater is rapidly disappearing. This crisis is unprecedented and the state does not have a comprehensive plan for dealing with it.