Faced with a severe drought, California enacted mandatory water conservation rules in early April for the first time in the state's history. But the agriculture industry — which consumes 80 percent of the state's water — was exempt from the new restrictions.
The drought has caused surface water sources such as reservoirs, rivers, and streams to dry up. Consumers have increasingly turned to groundwater supplies, putting an enormous strain on the state's aquifers. Drilling companies are punching so many holes in the ground that the number of requests for new wells in one recent week surpassed the entire total for some previous years, when water was plentiful.
In this excerpt, VICE News meets Steve Arthur, whose groundwater drilling business is booming during the historic drought.