Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

California’s Drought: The New Normal

Gov. Jerry Brown has officially declared a drought in the state of California. Californians are being asked to reduce their personal water usage by 20 percent in 2014, projected to become the driest year on record.

[slideshow_deploy id='346819']

Scientific projections regarding climate change suggest that these dry conditions could become the new normal. The drought proclamation formally recognizes that "extremely dry conditions ... may continue beyond this year and more regularly into the future." This calls for permanent and fundamental changes in our behavior.

Here are five ways to get started:

1. Reduce leaks: As a homeowner or renter, the best way to determine if you have a leak is to turn off all taps and see if the dials still turn on your water meter. If they do, you have a leak. You are usually responsible for leaks from the meter to your property. We also need to address leaks on a district or city scale. The average California city leaks 8 to 10 percent of its water because of old pipes underground, wasting not only water but the embedded energy used in pumping and treating our water. Let your elected officials know that they need to make our community drought-proof by reducing leaks.

2. "California-friendly" gardening: Does your front lawn look suspiciously like the verdant lawns and gardens on Downton Abbey? There are more appropriate landscape choices for dry and sunny California. During dry conditions, many will let their lawns die back, but sprinkler systems eventually creep back on. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Cash for Grass program offers $1.50-$2 per square foot for residents who install plants that thrive in dry conditions and don't require constant watering and mowing.

3. Check the toilet: A little-known law takes effect this year requiring the replacement of all water-wasting toilets. Check your tank by putting vegetable dye into the tank and wait to see if it shows up in the bowl. These silent leaks add up and can be easily fixed with replacing flapper valves or new high efficiency 1.2-gallon toilets.

4. Embrace greywater: Greywater systems capture the household water you use (excepting toilet and kitchen water). The systems can now be legally used in California within certain guidelines. This water can be reused for irrigation, saving it from being dumped into the stormdrain.

5. Harvest rainwater: Save the rainwater that would otherwise run off your roof then down a stormdrain, and reuse it for garden watering, yard usage, or vehicle and car washing. Many cities offer rain barrels or cisterns at a discount.

The drought underscores the need to address pervasive issues with California water management: contaminated and over-pumped groundwater supplies, lack of meters for agricultural entities, missed opportunities for stormwater capture and use, and wastewater recycling and direct potable reuse. Local water supply projects such as water reuse and recycling, have gotten short shrift in Sacramento compared with costly engineered options such as the diversion tunnels.

California Coastkeeper Alliance is part of a coalition that is evaluating long-term solutions to water management in California, and exploring a more integrated path forward on water issues. California Waterkeeper organizations are taking action to implement local solutions. Get the local perspective on the drought declaration from San Diego Coastkeeper and Los Angeles Waterkeeper.

You can find more information on water conservation strategies at Save Our Water.

Special thanks to Connor Everts, longtime California Coastkeeper Alliance partner and executive director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance, for his efforts on this piece.

Visit EcoWatch’s TIPS page for more eco-tips.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Lit candles, flowers and signs are seen in front of the U.S. embassy in Warsaw, Poland on May 31, 2020. Aleksander Kalka / NurPhoto / Getty Images

As protests are taking place across our nation in response to the killing of George Floyd, we want to acknowledge the importance of this protest and the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the years, we've aimed to be sensitive and prioritize stories that highlight the intersection between racial and environmental injustice. From our years of covering the environment, we know that too often marginalized communities around the world are disproportionately affected by environmental crises.

Read More Show Less
Sockeye salmon are seen swimming at a fish farm. Natalie Fobes / Getty Images

By Peter Beech

Using waste food to farm insects as fish food and high-tech real-time water quality monitoring: innovations that could help change global aquaculture, were showcased at the World Economic Forum's Virtual Ocean Dialogues 2020.

Read More Show Less
Shanika Reaux walks through the devastated Lower Ninth Ward on May 10, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana, after her home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Mario Tama / Getty Images

The big three broadcast channels failed to cover the disproportionate impacts of extreme weather on low-income communities or communities of color during their primetime coverage of seven hurricanes and one tropical storm over three years, a Media Matters for America analysis revealed.

Read More Show Less
Several drugmakers and research institutions are working on vaccines, antivirals and other treatments to help people infected with COVID-19. krisanapong detraphiphat / Moment / Getty Images

Researchers at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly announced yesterday that it will start a trial on a new drug designed specifically for COVID-19, a milestone in the race to stop the infectious disease, according to STAT News.

Read More Show Less
The Sumatran rhino is one of 515 endangered species of land animals on the brink of extinction. Mark Carwardine / Photolibrary / Getty Images

The sixth mass extinction is here, and it's speeding up.

Read More Show Less
People are having a hard time trying to understand what information is reliable and what information they can trust. Aekkarak Thongjiew / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Cathy Cassata

With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.

They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Workers clean up a crude oil leak from a pipeline in Minnesota in 2002. JOEY MCLEISTER / Star Tribune via Getty Images

The Trump administration has finalized a rule making it harder for states and tribal communities to block pipelines and other infrastructure projects that threaten waterways.

Read More Show Less