VALLEY THIRST

Palm Springs, agriculture big drains on California drought

Mar 19, 2014, 10:33 PM | Updated: 10:33 pm

When states are hit with drought, especially those heavy in agriculture like California and Arizona, there is often a worry that there won’t be enough water to go around.

But how much water does it actually take to keep desert cities like Palm Springs going while still growing crops?
Mother Jones took a look.

While agriculture is a large contributor to both California and Arizona’s income, tourism is also a huge asset. But desert cities like Phoenix and Palm Springs are a huge drain on water. After all, golf courses don’t stay green without water.

But just how big? Palm Springs with an average population of 45,000 but millions of annual visitors, uses about 700 gallons of water per day per person, not including agriculture. While the small population likely contributes to the large number, it still puts things in perspective of just how much water our cities can take from agriculture.

Both California and Arizona grow a lot of lettuce for the nation. For every single head of the millions of heads of lettuce grown, 3.5 gallons of water are used. Some experts are concerned that water costs and usage in the Southwest could result in agricultural growth moving to the South, where water is cheaper.

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Palm Springs, agriculture big drains on California drought