Does 11 trillion gallons of water seem like a lot of water to you? We mean, it’s really only the same amount of water we would need to fill the Rose Bowl Stadium about 130,370 times over … that’s doable … right?

Well, we’re kind of guessing that you think we’re crazy for insinuating that is a paltry amount of water, because frankly it is not. The sad reality is that that is the amount of water needed to end California’s four-year long drought. According to data presented by NASA scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting, showed that since 2011, the amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have deceased by four trillion gallons per year. The residential use of water by Californians only measures out to about 2.5 trillion gallons yearly, meaning there is another 1.5 trillion gallons of water that is being used elsewhere …

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NASA’s findings also illustrated that groundwater supplies are being quickly depleted and that the snowpack in California’s northern regions that usually melts and contributes to the state’s water supply has also decreased. These findings leave Californians to wonder where exactly they are going to find 11 trillion gallons of water to stave off the impact of the drought.

According to Jay Famiglietti, a senior water cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “It will take about 75 inches of precipitation or about three years of above-average rainfall and snowfall to make up the 11 trillion gallons of water deficit.”

Based off of recent rain patterns in California, this solution is highly unlikely. But, if the rate of water use exceeds that of California residents, where is all the water going? Well, agriculture.

Around 93 percent of California’s water use goes towards agriculture. As the country’s leading producer of dairy, it is easy to follow the water trail back to this water-intensive industry. Considering the fact that the average dairy farm uses 3.4 million gallons of water EVERY DAY, the missing 1.5 trillion gallons of water might not be so difficult to find. In early September, the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition launched a series of campaign posters for San Francisco’s BART, informing riders that they could save the same amount of water by not buying one gallon of milk as they could by skipping 27 showers!

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So Californians, you can cross your fingers and hope that over the next three years massive storm systems flood your state to end the drought … or you could simply rethink your consumption of dairy. When there are many alternatives to cow’s milk available that are good for you and the planet … why not take the leap and ditch dairy?

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