Weather and Natural Disasters

The drought-stricken Western U.S. braces for 'water wars'

VIDEO10:0910:09
How the Western 'megadrought' could cause more 'water wars'

Tourism, landscaping, homebuilding and farming are just some of the businesses that feel the economic crunch of a devastating drought in the U.S. West. Agriculture is particularly affected by water scarcity during these periods.

"Agriculture consumes more than 70% of the available water supply," said Morgan Levy, assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego. "During drought years, agriculture will drink up an even larger fraction of water supplies."

In 2020, wildfires and drought cost the U.S. more than $21 billion, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. 

"California had another extreme drought from 2011 to 2016 rivaling this one in its intensity," freelance science journalist Maddie Stone said in an interview with CNBC. "And we're also in the midst of what scientists consider to be a megadrought out West."

Watch the video above to find out more about the devastating drought hitting the West Coast, the implications for the U.S. economy, and what's been done to fix water shortages.