Officials Pay $1.1 Million to Keep Their Town From Running Out of Water

Coalinga is quickly running out of water. The Central Valley community is projected to deplete its supply by Dec. 1 at the latest. To keep the taps flowing, city officials have turned to the costly open market, purchasing 600 acre-feet of water at a price of $1.138 million. 

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"We can't continue this. It's not sustainable for our community," Coalinga City Councilmember Adam Adkisson told CNN.  

"We are a very poor community," Adkisson added. "These people out here that you see walking by, driving by, cannot afford a 1,000% increase in their water bills."

The open market purchase was a first for Coalinga after the US Bureau of Reclamation reduced the amount of water it could take from the reservoir by 80%. But these purchases could soon become the norm. How will cities like Coalinga cope as the prices rise even further? 

Not that long ago, the amount of water Coalinga just purchased would have cost $114,000. But water costs have skyrocketed over the past few years thanks to a crushing megadrought. 

The $1.138 million “was actually a cheap rate,” said  Adkisson. “That's the cheapest rate we found.”

The walnut farmers in this area have been hit hard by the drought and are fallowing to conserve water. It’s just not profitable to farm at the current water rates. 

Think it doesn’t affect you? Think again. Farmers told CNN consumers can expect to see even higher prices at the supermarket if this scarcity continues.