We really need to talk about the California drought

The mega-drought in California isn’t exactly new news. Southern California residents have been seeing the lit-up billboards and signs warning us to conserve water for over a year now, and conditions have been worsening since 2011. Californians are experiencing hotter and hotter summers and winters, without much rain relief. And now this week, for the first time in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown imposed mandatory water restrictions to cut back on statewide water use.

On an equally scary note, according to the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Jay Famiglietti.), we only have one year of water left. “Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing,” Famiglietti wrote in an op-ed for the LA Times. Yikes.

Here are some more alarming details about the drought that everyone should be aware of:

  • Temperatures in California are on-average record high. Last year, between April and September, we hit an average of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which broke the record of the 69.4, set in 2013. That might sound itsy-bitsy but those numbers are actually huge when it comes to weather.
  • Because of dry conditions, our reservoir storage is at a record low. Basically, we’re running out of back up.
  • According to The LA Times, “The amount of rain in the mountains this current water year . . . is at least 10 inches below normal levels.
  • The Sierras, which are usually snowy this time of year and melt into reservoirs, are barren. This is super scary, because 1/3 of California’s water supply comes from snow on the Sierras.

What’s really scary is that even while Californians are aware of the problem, they haven’t really been changing their lifestyles much to help rectify it. In a survey from February, it was determined that 94% of California residents think the situation is “serious.” But not enough is being done to conserve our water. Here are a few thing WE can do in our own lives to help save water.

  • Co-showering! Our maxing out your solo showers at five minutes.
  • Forget about your lawn. Just forget about it.
  • You know the bathroom mantra: “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”
  • NEVER throw water away. If you don’t finish a bottle, water a tree. If you’re at a restaurant, you can tell the waiter to stop refilling your glass.
  • Load your laundry machines. Don’t put in a load for one smelly sweatshirt.
  • Turn the water off while you brush your teeth. Always.
  • Check out this site we love which has loads of other tips.

As for what the state is doing to save water, here are the changes we can expect.

  • Grassy median strips will no longer be watered.
  • 50 million square feet of grass will be removed and replaced with “drought-tolerant” terrain.
  • Home owners will be encouraged to replace their water appliances with efficient ones (and will be offered rebates and initiatives).
  •  Watering golf courses, cemeteries, and lawns will be scaled back.

For now, food prices are not expected to increase as farmers are not being held to the same water cut standards. But as Gov. Brown informed Californians, “The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past.”

It’s going to take a little readjustment but we’re ready to do our part. We’ll also be outside praying to the rain gods, if you want to join us.

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