National Geographic: Amid Drought, California Water Virtually Draining Away

The state is exporting water-intensive alfalfa hay to fuel China's growing demand for dairy. A report by Kelsey Nowakowski, National Geographic.

Last week when Governor Jerry Brown imposed the first mandatory statewide water restrictions in the California’s history—municipalities were ordered to slash their water use by 25 percent—the state’s agricultural sector was notably exempt from the cutbacks.

According to water management expert Arjen Hoekstra of the University of Twente in the Netherlands, the issue of agriculture’s water footprint—all the water used to produce a commodity and get it to a consumer—is contentious, since many farmers use scarce water to produce low-value export crops.

Read the full report here.