It has been years since we have had a “normal” rainfall.
The Los Angeles Times reported that January and February 2022 were the driest ever recorded in most of California. The California Department of Water Resources stated that statewide snowpack came in at only 63% of the average for this time of year.
The Arizona Republic: “Two decades of aridification and spiraling water demands already had exposed more than 120 feet of Glen Canyon Dam concrete” and last year “sapped another 45 feet” complicating life in the western states, including California, that draw water from the declining Lake Powell. UC Merced’s researchers estimate the economic cost of the drought on California agriculture in 2021 at $1.7 billion with 14,000 jobs lost. This year isn’t looking any better.
California state water officials warn that we are entering a third year of severe drought. Karla Nemeth, California Department of Water Resources Director, makes the situation starkly clear: “A significantly below-average snowpack combined with already low reservoir levels make it critical that all Californians step up and conserve water every day to help the state meet the challenges of severe drought.”
What is being done? The Public Policy Institute of California is one group thinking long term about water usage that you can follow and it outlines a scary future with shrinking water supplies and the growing threat of extreme wildfire. Celeste Cantu, Chair, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board: “Climate change manifests as water impacts for California, mainly in prolonged drought punctuated by extreme storm events followed by catastrophic fires.” And “Drought is defined as a prolonged abnormally dry period leading to water shortage. But now the shortage is no longer abnormal but routine.”
Each of us can learn to be better at conserving our water. Help by installing low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads. Repair any leaky faucets. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving. Take shorter showers. Replace water dependent landscaping with drought-tolerant native plants. Think of all the other various ways you can reduce your water usage. It is a precious commodity. Treat it as such.
Drought-tolerant native plants. Photos by Julie Maxey-Allison.
Click on photo to enlarge.