Ninety percent of the West is considered to be “in drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, housed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

As of Thursday, the monitor reported: “In addition to impacting fire conditions, the on-going drought in California continues to strain the state’s water resources. This is reflected in the reservoir levels of California’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, which are currently at 43% and 34% of historical averages, respectively. In the Southwest, Lake Powell is currently 31% full and Lake Mead is 35% full. The total Lower Colorado system is at 40% full, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, compared to 50% full at the same time last year.”

Drought conditions in the Midwest in 2012 impacted water systems as well. As Investigate Midwest reported in 2017, the drought and its damage to Illinois’ corn and soybean crops spurred a growth in irrigation systems. 

“Agricultural irrigation increased in 2012,” wrote Jim Angel, Illinois state climatologist. “The combination of the drought and high commodity prices triggered a significant expansion of irrigation across Illinois that continued in 2013. There were several complaints of irrigation operations pumping hard enough to drop neighboring farms’ well levels.”

Below, here is what drought in Illinois looks like over time compared to California. 

California farms 24.3 million acres and Illinois farms 27.3, according to federal data. California’s biggest crop is almonds, with $5.6 billion in sales in 2020.  Illinois’ biggest crop is corn, with $9.2 billion in sales in 2020. 

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