But it’s far from just California’s problem. The state produces a huge percentage of the nation’s agriculture — nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts, by some estimates. And that requires a massive amount of water: farms here use about 80 percent of the state’s developed water supply.
Much is riding on the upcoming rainy season. Because if not enough water remains valuable for farmers to adequately irrigate their land, the impact will likely be felt far beyond the state’s borders.
In this audio slideshow, part of a photo essay project in the New Yorker, photographer Matt Black captures powerful images from the thirsty Central Valley, California’s breadbasket, and the farmers struggling to keep their crops alive. The excellent infographics below that, by Alex Park and Julia Lurie of Mother Jones (and re-posted with permission), give a glimpse of just how much agriculture is produced here and the amount of water required to grow it.