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In Brief

California Communities Could Soon Run out of Water

mt. shasta from space
The Southern, Eastern and Western Slopes of Mt. Shasta were almost bare in January. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Robert Simmon, using Landsat 8 data from the USGS Earth Explorer)

In the next two to four months, 17 California communities could run out of water as a result of the devastating drought in the region. And the list of communities at risk, which was compiled by the California Department of Public Health, will probably grow longer as the drought stretches on.

The water systems serve small rural communities, ranging in population from 39 to 11,000 people, in areas from Santa Cruz County to Sonoma County. These small water systems often can't charge enough to pay for backup supplies or fix broken down equipment when it fails, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

To head off the crisis, the state is considering several options, such as trucking in water from neighboring communities, connecting to outside water systems, or drilling new wells. The state hasn't seen so little rain since it was formed in 1850, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

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Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News,, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.