Chances are you, your family or your local community has been personally affected by drought. If for some reason you answered no, it is likely that you will be affected or are being affected in ways you may not be considering. Think about how diminishing water supplies could affect food supply (and cost). Drinking water supply. Increased chances of wildfire. The list goes on.

Food costs/production

According to ‘The Cost and Consequences of the U.S. Drought published by The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, retail food prices were projected to rise 3-4% in 2013 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While this is not a huge increase comparatively, it is an increase nonetheless (average being 2.5-3% annually).

In January, California Governor Jerry Brown held a press conference declaring a drought emergency for the state. Late last year, Gov. Brown assembled a panel to assess and make recommendations regarding the state’s drought conditions – 90% of which is experiencing ‘severe’ drought conditions. But California is not the only state experiencing these conditions. A good portion of the country is too.

Drinking water supply

With an estimated supply of less than 15 months of water remaining, the City of San Angelo (TX) is now investigating the viability of toilet to tap. “With lakes and rivers rapidly drying up, City staff are now considering looking into options for reusing wastewater within city limits,” states San Angelo LIVE!

States such as California are also experiencing the effects of drought. Severe Drought Has U.S. West Fearing Worst, published by the New York Times, “The punishing drought that has swept California is now threatening the state’s drinking water supply. With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. State officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. It is first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history.”


Wildfires negatively affect environmental quality but also affect property and lives. According to Montana-based Headwaters Economics, an independent non-partisan research firm, “wildfire protection costs have risen substantially. In the 1990s, the average cost of federal wildfire protection and suppression was less than $1 billion annually. Since 2002, the cost of federal wildfire protection and suppression has averaged more than $3 billion per year. Wildfire protection now accounts for nearly half of the Forest Service annual budget, and more than 10 percent of the budget for all Department of the Interior agencies. These figures do not include the $1-$2 billion spent by states on wildfire protection or an untold amount spent by local governments.”

Water conservation is imperative to sustain both our environment and financial resources. As others have said before, every drop counts. At no time is this simple statement more true – both environmentally and financially – for your family.

Feature image: kecko on Flickr

By Chase Ezell

Chase has served in various public relations, communications and sustainability roles. He is a former managing editor for