The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is now predicting that California only has enough water supply to last one year. Jay Famiglietti – a water scientist at NASA – broke the news in an op-ed piece released by the LA Times this month. According to Famiglietti, state reservoirs have been declining steadily since 2002 and groundwater levels are so low they are on the verge of depletion. Already immersed in one of the most epic droughts in the history of the state, California residents are already on edge with regard to the overall resiliency of their water management system.
In search of more water supplies, parts of California have already depleted their primary reserves of groundwater and are now drilling deeper – tapping into prehistoric reserves that cannot be readily replaced. As these prehistoric aquifers are mined, they suffer irreversible structural damage and no longer hold as much water as before. Vance Kennedy – a retired research hydrologist for the Central Valley – was not bashful in expressing his feelings on the issue during an interview with Tom Knudson of Mother Jones. “What I see going on is a future disaster, says Kennedy, “you are removing water that’s been there a long, long time. And it will probably take a long time to replace it. We are mining water that cannot be readily replaced.”
Much of this drilling is the result of large agricultural demands for freshwater. In order to halt the immense demand of agricultural consumers, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation told Central Valley farmers in February that the U.S. federal government wouldn’t deliver any water to them in 2015. Famiglietti believes that the “excessive and unsustainable” groundwater extraction for agriculture is partly responsible for massive overall groundwater losses that are causing land in the highly irrigated Central Valley to sink by one foot or more every year.
In 2014, all combined water sources (snow, rivers, reservoirs, and groundwater) in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins amounted to a volume that was 34 million acre-feet below normal levels. According to Famiglietti, California has lost approximately 12 million acre-feet of stored water every year since 2011. “Right now, the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing”, says Famiglietti. 
With groundwater rapidly depleting, California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought. The state legislature has proposed a new law called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. If passed, this piece of legislation will form regional groundwater management agencies by 2017, which will be responsible for developing a plan to sustainably manage the remaining groundwater supplies by 2022. In light of the latest groundwater projections, Famiglietti believes California’s proposed law is too little too late.
 Famiglietti, Los Angeles Times, “California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?” http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-famiglietti-drought-california-20150313-story.html
 Schlanger, Newsweek, “NASA: California Has One Year of Water Left.” http://www.newsweek.com/nasa-california-has-one-year-water-left-313647
 Inquisitr, Inquisitr, “California Drought 2015: NASA Predictions Claim Water Running Out in 2016 as Megadrought Hits.” http://www.inquisitr.com/1923332/california-drought-2015-nasa-predictions-claim-water-running-out-in-2016-as-megadrought-hits-hard/