As drought drives prices higher, millions of Californians struggle to pay for water
The cost of water is rising for many Californians. With prices at least 10 percent higher than last year, and with many areas still struggling to recover from the worst summer in California history, California water restrictions have begun to bring the situation into the public eye.
Here’s a look at the prices of water and water restrictions across the state.
A home in Chico, California, relies on rain, snow and cisterns to store water for its residents.
Water prices have risen an average of 10 percent since last year, when the state imposed an emergency drought in order to buy more water for consumers.
The price hikes come at a time when more people are moving away from the state, and California has seen unprecedented drought years.
“The drought is the major driver of the rise in water prices in the last three and a half years,” said Rebecca Katz, an associate professor of public policy and economics at the University of California at Berkeley.
The state recently reached an agreement for federal assistance to farmers in the Central Valley in the coming months.
“The state is providing about half of the market value — the price of water — for water suppliers,” Katz said. “But over half of the market value may not be available until after the end of the season, and not all of it can be covered under the state’s share.”
However, Katz noted that the state may also be responsible for higher prices.
“We’re not the only ones who bear responsibility,” she said.
California water restrictions are putting the squeeze on cities and agricultural regions throughout the state.
The state is facing more restrictions as people continue to move away from the state. More people are packing up and shipping to places like Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii.
“I’m from Southern California myself, and it was a good tradeoff,” said Chris Hart, a former Los Angeles city council member who now lives in the San Fernando Valley. “You can’t live all day outdoors in Southern California and eat dinner in a restaurant.”
For Hart and others, California’s drought extends beyond the summer months.
“In the winter, we have people who live