The report from UC Irvine’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling is an update to a 2011 study which showed the basins lost nearly as much water as the volume of Lake Mead over a seven year period.
The new report finds water storage in the last two years continues to plummet, and the study doesn’t even include the most recent dry winter.
Report author Jay Famiglietti says the amount of water lost is equal to the water used by all of California’s urban areas each year. Most of the loss is due to groundwater withdrawals.
Famiglietti says groundwater levels drop faster during drought than they can be replenished during wet periods.
“This is a worse than ever situation," says Famiglietti. "So we really have to watch what’s going to happen with the groundwater. It’s been bad in the past during drought periods and now with a zero surface water allocation I’m quite concerned that it will be terrible in the future.”
Releasing reservoir water to keep salmon from dying is one of many tough water allocation decisions in this third year of the California drought.
California's drought is blamed for a big downturn in honey production.
Researchers say California has been overdrawing its water account for a century.
Researchers at UC Davis fear that California’s drought may soon claim its first victim, the Red Hills Roach. The tiny fish is losing its water. Scientists fear it may soon be pushed to extinction.
A UC Davis report shows the drought has brought positive and negative effects to Lake Tahoe.