With a slew of statistics projected on the slideshow behind him, California's state climatologist had a stark warning during a Thursday presentation on the severity of the drought.
"You’re looking on numbers that are right on par with what was the Dust Bowl," said the climatologist, Michael Anderson.
The presentation was part of a briefing organized by the Assn. of California Water Agencies and attended by top state officials.
Gov. Jerry Brown has been criticized for not doing enough to curb water use by farmers, but members of his administration rejected that perception during Thursday's event.
John Laird, state secretary for natural resources, said the agricultural industry has faced an economic loss of $1.5 billion while fallowing 400,000 acres and laying off 17,000 farm workers.
"We are all in this together," Laird said.
On Wednesday, Brown met for hours with leaders from environmental groups, agricultural organizations and water agencies to discuss the state's response to the drought.
"The key challenge here, aside from getting the water, is to collaborate together and not try to blame other people and point fingers," he said.
Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.