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California drought worst on record, residents resort to stealing water

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, July 31, 2014, 4:23 PM - The drought hitting California has officially become the worst since the U.S. federal government began issuing flood reports in the late 1990s. Roughly 58% of the state is experiencing "exceptional" drought -- and in some places, the situation is so dire that residents have resorted to stealing water.

A father and daughter living off a water tank in the central valley say thieves have broken into their reserves eight times.

When that happens, "we go without showering, we can't flush our toilets, we can't wash our hands," the daughter said.

California has been experiencing drought conditions since May but this year, more regions than ever have fallen into the 'extreme' and 'exceptional' categories than ever before.

“It’s hard because the drought is not over and you’re in the dry season. Our eyes are already on next winter,” Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, told the L.A. Times.

“Outside of some freakish atmospheric conditions, reservoir levels are going to continue to go down ... the bottom line is, there’s a lot of ground to make up. Mother Nature can’t put it back in that fast."

RELATED: The lawn wars: California drought sparks peculiar behaviour

Pools at popular tourist attractions are being drained and water bans are in place.

Forecasters are predicting the drought could cause food prices to raise by as much as 6 percent, with major food chains Chipotle and In-N-Out Burger already raising their prices.

The conditions have sparked some peculiar behaviour among residents as well.

One couple has been fined by their city for letting their lawn go brown in an attempt to save water, while others have taken to social media and dedicated 'tattletale' phone lines to publicly shame their neighbours for wasting it.

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