Using sacrifice as our economic definition of cost, we can say that droughts increase the cost of water. When we use water in one place, the cost is using it somewhere else.
And that takes us to California almonds.
Viewed slightly differently, you can see below that almond production requires more water than Los Angeles.
The California Drought
The California drought is now into its fourth year. The water runoff to California reservoirs from this year’s Sierra Nevada snowpack is expected to plunge. Farmers are depleting their “backup” supplies of groundwater. And an SF Gate blog tells us that people are starting to experience CWAS: California Water Anxiety Syndrome.
In almond growing regions of California, the drought is intense:
Demand for California almonds is surging. California provides almost all of the almonds we consume in the U.S. and exports much more.
Our Bottom Line: Tradeoffs
On the one hand, California is benefiting from a thriving industry. But the cost of almond production is water that could have an alternative use in a drought stricken state. And therein lies the tradeoff.