Drought challenges: California and Florida

Originally written April 2, 2014

Is there any way to compare current drought challenges in California with Florida droughts? The states are very different but perhaps a few numbers will be illuminating.

Rainfall. For California, statewide rainfall last year set a record low: 7.38 inches. The comparable record low for Florida is 41.48 inches (way back in 1917).

Water withdrawal intensity. The statewide average in California is about 200,000 gallons of fresh water withdrawn per day per square mile. In Florida, the average is half that: about 104,000 gallons per square mile per day.

Evaporation. Fresno, California (in that state’s zone of intensive agriculture zone) averages about 65 inches a year of simple evaporation while south Florida is a little less at 52-55 inches annually.

These three indicators tend to show that meeting water demands in California during a severe drought is considerably harder than in Florida. By comparison, we in Florida have it pretty easy.

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