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.
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.
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."
By Katie O'Reilly
Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.